News Story

On this day 62 years ago, we welcomed audiences for the first time to a performance of John Fletcher’s comedy The Chances! A lot has happened since then… and all witnessed by our wonderful staff and volunteers who make everything happen. So, for our birthday, we wanted to share just a few favourite memories from them:

Flower, Senior Costume Assistant: The year we ran away to the circus, [building the Theatre on the Park during RENEW] I remember my favourite EVER cue: for Neville’s Island we would stand Ade Edmondson in a paddling pool, and I would smear him with mud. He always said thank you! Or, back in 2004, I remember having to chase Dean Hussain for his quick-change playing Jaguar on Just So Stories – he was very naughty, but it was hilarious.

Phil, Heritage Volunteer and former Stage Crew: I worked on Terra Nova in 1980, about Captain Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition. I remember his son Sir Peter Scott coming backstage to tell us how moving he found the play about his father.

Jenny, Social Media & Digital Marketing Officer: My favourite memory at CFT is the day we broke into the costume archives and took one of the infamous rhino costumes from Born Again (1990). We made Rob [IT & AV Technician] wear it and run around Oaklands Park for the Digital Stages project in 2022. It was silly and lots of fun!

Sharon, PA to Theatre Manager: We had good parties when I started working as an usherette in the 1970s. There was an opening night party, a season party, and a mid-season party - plus after every final performance there was the crew party in the foyer, which was very badly behaved! But always good fun. It’s where I met my husband Karl - we went on to work at CFT together for almost 40 years before his retirement last year.

Avelina, Heritage Volunteer: Earlier this year I represented CFT in Chichester’s first Pride Parade through town. We were wearing headdresses from CFT’s production of Gypsy in 2014. It was a huge honour wearing that costume because it made me feel like a real carnival performer!

Janet, Theatre Manager: The first production of my first season as House Manager was Coriolanus with Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench, which included a royal visit from the Prince of Wales. Everything involved in that, the amount of security, was intense, but it was fantastic. All the staff were in the line-up to say goodbye to Prince Charles. It was very glamorous; it was very exciting!

Grace, Box Office Assistant: In 2011 I started working in the wardrobe department doing laundry for Singinin the Rain. The following year I returned as a dresser – and I absolutely loved it. I met my husband David when he came into wardrobe to be fitted for a crew costume. I politely looked away when he was changing! From there we returned every year, with me as a dresser and he as stage crew and follow spot operator.

Dale, Director of Learning, Education and Participation: During opening scene of Running Wild (2015), CFYT’s open-air promenade production at the Cass Sculpture Park, Oona the life-size elephant puppet lumbered towards us from the undergrowth, there was a huge gasp from the audience, with one member shouting “OMG, there’s a real elephant!”. The haunting melodies, soundscapes, jungle-beats and rain forest atmosphere will be etched in my memory forever! Another stand out memory was directing CFYT’s Christmas production Pinocchio during the Covid Pandemic (2020). No props, no physical touch and social distancing – one of the most surreal experiences of my career, but we did it, and it became one of the only Christmas productions still standing in the UK!

Want to keep reminiscing? Visit our history page to dive into riches from our archive collection, from 1962 until today.