Festival Theatre wins big at Oliviers

Chichester Festival Theatre'''Picture by Louise Adams C130385-1 Chi CFT
Chichester Festival Theatre'''Picture by Louise Adams C130385-1 Chi CFT

CHICHESTER’S own Festival Theatre scooped four top prizes at the theatre world’s equivalent of the Oscars on Sunday.

Those representing the CFT went home with a clutch of gongs at the 2013 Olivier Awards, including three for Sweeney Todd, the musical which began life as a Chichester Festival 2011 production before transferring to the West End last year.

Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton won Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical for their roles in Sweeney Todd, and the production itself won Best Musical Revival.

Goodnight Mister Tom, a Chichester Festival Theatre co-production with Fiery Angel, who lead the Children’s Touring Partnership, won the Entertainment and Family category.

Chichester Festival Theatre received a notable 13 Olivier Award nominations in total, all for productions which transferred to the West End during its 50th anniversary in 2012.

Sweeney Todd received an additional three nominations, Kiss Me, Kate received a total of five nominations and The Judas Kiss, a Chichester Festival Theatre co-production, received a Best Actor nomination for Rupert Everett.

“We are absolutely delighted that Sweeney Todd and Goodnight Mister Tom have been recognised in this way by the theatre industry,” said Jonathan Church, artistic director at Chichester Festival Theatre.

“Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton gave incredibly committed and powerful performances in two extremely demanding roles at the heart of a landmark production. Sweeney Todd’s success was achieved through the work of a superb cast and creative team led by director Jonathan Kent.

“Goodnight Mister Tom was the first production by Children’s Touring Partnership, which was set up by Chichester Festival Theatre and producers Fiery Angel with the support of the Arts Council, to create high quality theatre at affordable prices for young people and their families. The positive response from audiences and critics has been gratifying.

“These Olivier Awards further acknowledge the growing impact of Chichester’s work which has led to two million people beyond the region seeing our productions in the last three years.”

Chichester’s Festival 2013 opened on Monday, April 29, in the Minerva Theatre with a revival of The Pajama Game, a musical directed by Richard Eyre. Other highlights of the season include the return of the critically acclaimed production The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, prior to its West End transfer in September.

Theatre in the Park, a temporary state-of-the-art auditorium, will be unveiled this summer with a major production of Barnum presented in association with Cameron Mackintosh, and co-directed by Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel. Theatre in the Park will be erected in June while the £22 million RENEW development of the Festival Theatre continues.

Mirroring the theatre’s auditorium, the purpose-built temporary building in Oaklands Park will house 1,400 seats and a thrust stage.