John Cleese is set to bring the iconic Torquay hotelier Basil Fawlty to the West End for the very first time, almost five decades since the character’s television introduction. Cleese has skillfully adapted and amalgamated three classic Fawlty Towers episodes into a new two-hour play, slated to premiere at London’s Apollo Theatre in May. This theatrical production ingeniously weaves together the plots of “The Hotel Inspector,” “The Germans,” and “Communication Problems” from the beloved 1970s sitcom.
In a statement released on Friday, Cleese expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “We’ve been involved in the casting process for some time, being constantly reminded of what a wealth of acting talent we have in Britain – sorting the very, very, very good from the merely very, very good. Finally, we assembled a top-class group of comedy actors.”
The role of Basil will be brought to life by Adam Jackson-Smith, with the indomitable Sybil played by Anna-Jane Casey. Hemi Yeroham takes on the role of the waiter Manuel, while Victoria Fox embodies the character of the maid Polly.
Cleese, who originally portrayed Basil opposite his co-writer (and then-wife) Connie Booth as Polly, carefully selected three of his favorite episodes for the adaptation and added “one huge finale” to delight the audience.
This West End debut for Fawlty Towers comes amidst a trend of TV comedies transitioning to the stage, with hits like “Drop the Dead Donkey” and “The Fast Show” also gracing theatrical productions this year. While it’s not the first time Fawlty Towers has inspired a theatrical treatment, with the long-running Edinburgh Fringe hit “Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience,” Cleese’s adaptation promises a fresh take on the classic sitcom.
The play, beginning previews on May 4 and officially opening on May 15, is directed by Caroline Jay Ranger, known for her work on productions like “Only Fools and Horses: The Musical” and “Monty Python Live.”
As Fawlty Towers continues to capture audiences with its timeless humor, Cleese’s adaptation adds a new dimension to the beloved series, bringing it to a fresh audience on the prestigious West End stage.