Clare Burt
Joanna Riding   Gary Wilmot

Flowers for Mrs Harris

Based on the novel by Paul Gallico

Book by Rachel Wagstaff     Music & Lyrics by Richard Taylor

Festival Theatre
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One of the most heartwarming British musicals of recent years



Sunday Express

You will laugh, you may cry, you may even gasp


Ada Harris spends her days dusting, darning, polishing and scrubbing. But her first glimpse of a ravishing Christian Dior dress sets her off on a journey that will change her life forever...

From the cobbled streets of post-war London to the shimmering avenues of Paris, Ada transforms the lives of everyone she meets along the way; but can she let go of the past and finally allow her own life to blossom?

This new musical, directed by Daniel Evans, captures the glowing humanity of the novella by Paul Gallico on which it is based. The production began in Sheffield, where it won three UK Theatre Awards including Best Musical.

Richard Taylor is a composer and lyricist for stage, opera and television, whose work includes Beauty and the Beast (CFYT 2017) and The Go-Between (West End). Rachel Wagstaff adapted Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong for the West End.

Clare Burt recreates her award-winning performance as Mrs Harris; her extensive musical theatre work includes London Road and Sunday in the Park with George (National Theatre), Big Fish (West End) and most recently Miss Littlewood (RSC).

Joanna Riding returns to Chichester following The Pajama Game (Festival 2013 and West End). A double Olivier Award-winner, her West End and National Theatre work includes My Fair Lady, The Witches of Eastwick, Guys and Dolls and Carousel.

Gary Wilmot makes a welcome Festival debut. His many West End credits include Dick Whittington,The Wind in the Willows, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Pajama Game and UK tours of Oklahoma! and Chicago

Purchase a digital copy of the programme

Our programmes are designed to be the perfect insightful companion to the production. In this programme Richard Taylor and Rachel Wagstaff discuss the birth of this new British Musical and Mark Fisher writes about the impact of Christian Dior on the fashion world. In addition, the programme includes rehearsal photography, biographies, events and news from the Theatre.

By clicking on BUY you will be re-directed to Issuu's website. The purchased programme will be available to read on their website and app.

Purchasing a digital programme does not include the purchase of a printed programme.

Prologue tickets available now!



Sunday Express

One of the most heart-warming British musicals of recent years


Daniel Evans’s enchanting musical is beautifully performed. You will laugh, you may cry, you may even gasp


Remarkable and extremely moving

Evening Standard

Dazzling. Like a couture gown, an original one-off

Sunday Times

A rosy new British musical

The Stage

Elegant and heartfelt. A real world, post-war fairytale. Lez Brotherston’s Dior-style dresses are jaw-dropping


A dazzling performance

i Newspaper

Rachel Wagstaff’s book deftly amplifies the novella. Richard Taylor’s music and lyrics are intense and skilful. Clare Burt is luminous and the parade of dresses is spectacular

Libby Purves, Theatrecat

A performance that is as elegant as it is honest. Clare Burt’s commanding personality simply erupts across the stage

West Sussex Gazette

Mrs Harris is the tale of heart-of-gold post-war London cleaning lady Ada, beautifully and movingly played by Clare Burt in her portrayal of a woman who is generous and selfless to a fault.

Chichester Observer

It’s an utterly charming, wonderfully uplifting tale

Stage Review

Cast & Creatives


Cast List

Clare Burt

Ada Harris

Joanna Riding

Lady Dant / Madame Colbert

Gary Wilmot

Major / Monsieur Armande

Luke Latchman

Terry / Wireless commentator

Claire Machin

Violet / French char lady

Louis Maskell

Bob / Andre

Rhona McGregor

Flower Girl / Dressmaker

Mark Meadows

Mr Harris / Marquis

Laura Pitt-Pulford

Pamela / Natasha

Nicola Sloane

Countess / Sybil Sullivan

Creative Team

Cast List

Daniel Evans


Lez Brotherston


Tom Brady

Musical Supervisor & Musical Director

Mark Henderson

Lighting Designer

Mike Walker

Sound Designer

Naomi Said

Movement Director

Charlotte Sutton

Casting Director



Five minutes with Daniel Evans

She’s done something with her life and she’s followed her dream. It’s such a universal theme that everyone can probably connect with, wherever you’re from

Daniel Evans

Five minutes with Daniel Evans: Flowers for Mrs Harris

Festival 2018 has already produced one splendid musical, and before the run of Me and My Girl is over, director Daniel Evans will be heading straight into rehearsals for the season’s next musical production. Flowers for Mrs Harris opens in the Festival Theatre on 8 September so we grabbed five minutes with our Artistic Director to ask him a few questions about the differences between the two pieces.

Me and My Girl is a 1930s classic, Flowers for Mrs Harris is new piece. What are the new challenges that come with staging a new musical?

There’s a famous Stephen Sondheim quote: “musicals aren’t written, they’re rewritten”. While that’s true of any musical, it’s truer when you’re birthing a musical. With Flowers for Mrs Harris we have undergone many stages of development, from me first hearing Richard Taylor playing a song or two on the piano and thinking ‘oh hang on there’s definitely something worth pursuing here’, and at that point there was really only an act written. Actually, what the show has become is very, very different.

We’ve undergone a series of workshops and an initial short run of the production, which played for 10 performances in Sheffield in my final season as Artistic Director there before I moved to Chichester. And since then the writers have gone back to rewrite and amend sections in order to include the things that they had learnt from those performances in Sheffield. They’re not insignificant changes; while the bare bones remain the same, I’m hoping that the Chichester version will be tighter, cutting to the chase more quickly.

The other scary thing is that you don’t know how the audience is going to react. With Me and My Girl, everyone knows the Lambeth Walk even if they’ve never seen the show before. With Flowers for Mrs Harris some audience members might know the Paul Gallico novella, but they really don’t know what they’re coming to see. I’m thinking particularly of the ‘sound world’ of the composer, and so that’s something we have to look after. It’s a really delicate thing because you want the audience to immerse themselves in the music as quickly as possible, which I think they will because Richard Taylor’s music is so exquisite.

Flowers for Mrs Harris doesn’t have a big chorus or ensemble, is it almost like a chamber musical?

In Flowers for Mrs Harris, there are just 10 actors and it’s incredibly intimate. Part of its narrative is also that it’s about this ordinary cleaning lady – at least, she thinks she’s ordinary – whose life is transformed by this one major event. So it’s much more like a play, it just so happens that some of it is sung.  However, it certainly has its epic moments, particularly in Act 2 where we get to see nine Dior dresses on display.

There’s a bit of a neat parallel between your two lead characters though isn’t there? Bill from Me and My Girl and Ada in Flower for Mrs Harris

They’re both from lowly backgrounds, and find themselves in more sophisticated surroundings. They both unwittingly turn their own worlds and the worlds of those people they encounter on the journey, upside down.

What can audiences expect from Flowers for Mrs Harris that’s different to Me and My Girl?

They both contain immense amounts of joy. In Me and My Girl the joy is readily expressed through amazing tap dancing and upbeat numbers. Flowers for Mrs Harris is a different kind of joy because it’s the joy of seeing someone who’s intrinsically kind and good, achieving her heart’s desire. The ultimate fairy tale. It’s quite rare because while she has to overcome many obstacles – in many ways it’s a quest story – what she does to the people around her is moving because she has no idea that she’s doing it. When we did our performances in Sheffield you could hear people weeping for joy at the end. She’s done something with her life and she’s followed her dream. It’s such a universal theme that everyone can probably connect with, wherever you’re from.

Flowers for Mrs Harris opens 8 September and runs until 29 September.



Running Time
2 hours and 35 minutes including the interval