Stars of screen and theatre will feature in the first Chichester Festival Season under its new directing team.

Comedian Omid Djalili, and actors Sir Ian McKellen and Richard Wilson head a list of stars appearing in the 2017 Festival which has just been announced by the theatre.

Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley announced the first season under their leadership as Artistic Director and Executive Director.

Highlights include new plays by Deborah Bruce, James Graham and Edna O’Brien.

Richard Wilson leads the cast in Alan Bennett’s FORTY YEARS ON, directed by Daniel

Academy and Tony Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden makes her UK theatre debut with Brian J. Smith in Tennessee Williams’ SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, directed by Jonathan Kent

Jonathan Munby directs KING LEAR with an ensemble cast including Ian McKellen

Githa Sowerby’s THE STEPMOTHER is directed by Richard Eyre

Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy THE NORMAN CONQUESTS is directed by Blanche McIntyre

The season will include two musicals:

Michael Longhurst directs Sharon D. Clarke in the first new UK production of Tony Kushner & Jeanine Tesori’s CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Daniel Evans directs FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, with Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman

There are three new plays:

QUIZ by James Graham, directed by Daniel Evans.

THE HOUSE THEY GREW UP IN by Deborah Bruce, directed by Jeremy Herrin in a co-production with Headlong

THE COUNTRY GIRLS by Edna O’Brien, directed by Lisa Blair

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre will present Philip Pullman’s GRIMM TALES at Cass Sculpture Foundation, and a new adaptation of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in the Festival Theatre for Christmas, both directed by Dale Rooks

Festival 2017 marks the beginning of a new era at Chichester Festival Theatre under the leadership of Artistic Director Daniel Evans and Executive Director Rachel Tackley.

Their first season, which stretches from April to November, sees directors Lisa Blair, Michael Longhurst and Blanche McIntyre making their Chichester debuts, while welcoming back Richard Eyre, Jeremy Herrin, Jonathan Kent, Jonathan Munby and Dale Rooks. Among the leading actors announced so far are Sharon D. Clarke, Omid Djalili, Marcia Gay Harden, Ian McKellen, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Brian J. Smith and Richard Wilson.

Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley said: ‘We are thrilled to introduce our first season at the helm of Chichester Festival Theatre. It’s been a joy to put together a variety of work created by some of the most exciting artists in the country.

‘We're delighted to welcome those who are new to Chichester, such as Marcia Gay Harden, Sharon D. Clarke, Omid Djalili and Edna O'Brien, and the many who are making return visits – among them Ian McKellen, Richard Wilson, Jonathan Kent and Richard Eyre.

‘It’s a particular pleasure that some of the UK’s most talented young designers and creative artists will be working on this year’s productions, and we’re also offering new opportunities for six assistant directors at the start of their careers.

‘There will be over 10,000 tickets available at £10 in the Festival Theatre, and the price of tickets for 16 to 25 year olds has been reduced to £5. For the first time there will be a Relaxed Performance of our summer musical, Fiddler on the Roof; there’ll be free entertainment for everyone in Oaklands Park and a Fun Palace weekend in October. We hope that everyone will find something to enjoy.’