1986: Sondheim

The 1980s saw the first of several productions of musicals by the legendary Stephen Sondheim at Chichester Festival Theatre:

1986A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a musical farce set in Ancient Rome starring Frankie Howerd.

1989 A Little Night Music, about the romantic lives of several couples, featuring the classic song 'Send In the Clowns'.

2001 Putting It Together, a musical revue set in Manhattan - with horrible irony, the opening night coincided with 9/11.

2011 Sweeney Todd, starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton - Sondheim is said to have commented it was the finest production of the musical he had ever seen.

2014 Gypsy, which saw the return of Imelda Staunton as Rose. The production won the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical, transferring to the Savoy in London where it was nominated for eight Olivier Awards, winning four.

2023A highly anticipated revival of Assassins, Sondheim's Tony Award-winning dark comedy about American history, due be staged in 2020, was rescheduled for Festival 2023, directed by Polly Findlay and starring Danny Mac. In 2020, a special Celebrating Sondheim concert was staged instead for Sondheim's 90th birthday, one of the few live events at CFT that year.

After Sondheim passed away on 26 November 2021, CFT's Artistic Director Daniel Evans - who himself won Olivier Awards for Merrily We Roll Along and Sunday in the Park with George - wrote: "the theatre world is mourning the loss of a true giant - one whose legacy is monumental. At CFT, we remember with gladness those recent incredible productions of Gypsy and Sweeney Todd - both demonstrating why Stephen Sondheim is considered the greatest musical theatre lyricist and composer of the modern era."