John Cleese, the original Basil Fawlty and co-creator of the hit 1970s British sitcom Fawlty Towers, is bringing his iconic characters to the stage in a new play which will premiere in Sydney at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in August 2016.
Fawlty Towers – Live On Stage will tour Australia and New Zealand with a cast of Australian actors taking on the roles of Basil, his wife Sybil, the maid Polly and hapless waiter Manuel. There’s no word whether it will draw plot elements from the series’ 12 episodes or be a brand new story set in the eponymous hotel in the British seaside village of Torquay.
Fawlty Towers is regularly listed amongst the best TV comedies of all time and in 2000 the British Film Institute named the series Britain’s greatest TV show of the 20th century. The stage version comes after several producers have had commercial success with stage adaptations of other classic sitcoms, including Australia’s own Mother and Son.
There have already been a number of live versions of Fawlty Towers in Australia and around the world, but this is the first with Cleese’s involvement.
Cleese said in a statement: “There have been many requests in the past 40 years to adapt Fawlty Towers for the stage. I now sense the time is right and I’d like my Aussie actor friends to be my collaborators on the world premiere of this epoch-shattering event, a watershed in the history of Australian theatrical culture. Or not”.
The show will be adapted from Cleese and Connie Booth’s series by Cleese himself, with direction by Caroline J. Ranger (a British director who was an associate on Monty Python’s recent performances at London’s O2 Arena) and set design by Liz Ascroft.