1967: An Italian Straw Hat

The 1967 season brought a challenging situation for Artistic Director John Clements. Danny Kaye, the internationally famous film actor, was due to star in a production of The Servant of Two Masters, but withdrew at the last minute to assist the Israeli government after the outbreak of The Six Day War with Egypt.

Despite covering the cost of reprinting all publicity, and reimbursing The Millstream Hotel in Bosham for the refurbishments they had made to accommodate him, the press were unforgiving.

Kaye's departure left Clements only a couple of weeks to find a whole new show, and he chose the light-hearted farce An Italian Straw Hat. A huge effort was needed to design, rehearse and prepare the production in a short space of time. Their efforts were rewarded; the show sold out, resulting in queues for returns and a brilliant second season for John Clements. View some of the original costume designs below by designer Peter Rice.

'Dunkirk Spirit' broke out, important actors were accepting tiny roles, anyone who could hold a paintbrush was involved in painting the set - in fact, the entire back wall of the Theatre was painted white. All balustrades, rails and so on, were painted bright pink.

Bill Bray recalls The Servant of Two Masters (Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty)

Costume design for An Italian Straw Hat, designer Peter Rice 1967
Costume design for Tavernier in An Italian Straw Hat, designer Peter Rice 1967