John Cleese Reveals Exclusive Details Behind Fawlty Towers Stage Show

23 February 2016 | 11:45 am | Neil GriffithsMark Neilsen

It's all coming together.

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Comedy fans around the world were given a reason to celebrate when it was announced late last year that legendary actor John Cleese was planning a stage production of his iconic '70s sitcom Fawlty Towers and in an interview with theMusic, the 76-year-old comic has revealed all the details leading up to its big premiere. 

Working alongside CJ Ranger, who also directed the 2014 Monty Python Live (Mostly) shows at London's The O2, Cleese re-wrote three episodes adapted for a stage play.

"So it’s Mrs Richards (Communication Problems), and it’s The Germans and it’s The Hotel Inspectors, which is one of my favourites..." Cleese said.

"So I put those together very roughly and I did a first draft in January and CJ's made a few changes, particularly at the end. She had a good idea of bringing all the endings together as one huge finale. And that takes quite a lot of carpentry, as I call it. Judicious cutting and pasting and all that stuff. So we’ll do that in the last couple of weeks in May. But otherwise it’s already in shape."

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He went on to say that the reason these particular episodes were selected was because of the smaller number of performers that appear in the show. 

"...[Ranger] figured out how so and so could play this in this episode and that, you see what I mean? So he’s in the first half, but he also come into the third half hour, so we do that," Cleese said. 

"And it keeps the cast down to about nine, ten? Which is manageable, because if you’re touring the cost of extra people in hotels with per diems, it’s a real factor."

The veteran star is currently in Australia to cast the stage production complete with Australian actors ahead of its Sydney premiere this August, as well for his upcoming live show alongside fellow Monty Python alumni Eric Idle, Together Again At Last...For The Very First Time, which kicks off in the country this week. 

Cleese called the new show with Idle "the most enjoyable stage thing I've done".

"Because he and I get on very well together and it’s very loose and I don’t have the usual feelings I've got to turn in a perfect performance which can put pressure on you," Cleese explained.

"I accept there’s going to be a few things happening, some things will go wrong in this kind of show, and that’s what the audience seems to want. They don’t want a beautiful performance presented to them in a glass case anymore, they want some kind of authenticity. And if you break up or forget the words or something, they seem to like it even better than if you get it right."

For a look at all venues and dates of the show, head to theGuide.