Metro: Theatre review: Only Fools And Horses The Musical is a big hit up West

★ ★ ★ ★

A MUSICAL of Only Fools And Horses? It’ll probably run for about as long as Del Boy’s Reliant Regal. Because like that jalopy, this show smacks of being the kind of vehicle doomed to backfire on its writers Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan — son of John, the creator of the adored TV series.

Armed with just one song written by his late father and Chas Hodges (who died last year), Sullivan took the idea to Whitehouse who, for all his comedy Baftas had never written a musical, let alone one for the West End.

So as a proposition this show makes about as much sense as the mops that tell the time which Del and Rodney sell down Peckham market. And yet, a bit like Del Boy’s made-in-Uzbekistan mobile phone, this show actually works.

p>Set in 1989, the action mostly lingers in the Trotter’s favourite boozer and their council flat.

p>Tom Bennett is spot-on as Del Boy, with all the bling, blag and charm of David Jason’s original. Ryan Hutton matches the whiny resentment of Nicholas Lyndhurst’s Rodney and Whitehouse is well within his comfort zone as the self-pitying Grandad. Also present are Cassandra, Boycie, Trigger and scouser Denzil.

p>Yet what makes Caroline Jay Ranger’s production more than just a fix for nostalgia addicts is that it transfers from screen to stage the wit and heart of the original series. True, the plot, cherry-picked from TV, has about as much substance as a Trotter Independent Trading Co guarantee. And with a bare-faced cheek Del Boy would be proud of, Sullivan and Whitehouse nick Bill Withers’ Lovely Day and Mick Hucknall’s Holding Back The Years to beef up their score.
But their own songs work well, among them Sullivan’s funny Bit Of A Sort, sung by Del Boy to describe his ideal woman. Call it comfort food for our troubled times, this show serves up some — yes — lovely jubbly.

Only Fools and Horses – The Musical is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 31 August

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Express: Only Fools And Horses The Musical – Lovely jubbly time had by all

★ ★ ★ ★

The gang’s all here. Del Boy, Rodney, Raquel, Boycie, Marlene, Cassandra and Trigger are all present and correct in Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan’s musical version of the best Peckham-based sitcom of all time.

The rogues’ gallery of sharpies and wide boys is recreated with loving care and attention to detail on a revolving set that shifts the action quickly between The Nag’s Head (inside and out), the Trotter residence (complete with bamboo-design wallpaper and homemade cocktail bar) and hospital where Del Boy winds up after an encounter with a “revolving door” operated by the villainous Driscolls.

With songs written by the late Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave and Whitehouse, the hooky is in from the start in an opening sequence that recalls Lionel Bart in his glorious heyday.

p>Pretty soon, the jokes come thick and fast as the story works its way through a distillation of Sullivan’s series, centring on Rodney’s imminent wedding to Cassandra and Del Boy’s attempt to find a love of his own through a dating agency.
Trigger’s tragedy, says Tom Bennett’s David Jason soundalike Del Boy, is that “his father died two years before he was born.”
Ah yes, we remember it well.
Much of the subsequent action is a combination of rapid-fire gags and slightly queasy melancholy as Del Boy stares into a Rodney-less future with only Grandad (Paul Whitehouse) for company and many of the songs in the first half are threaded with a sadness that is both touching and surprising.
But Whitehouse livens things up with a stonking knees-up in the pub that starts with Where Have All the Cockneys Gone? before segueing into My Old Man’s A Dustman.
That’s more like it.

p>There is a really weird sequence in which Trigger foresees south London 25 years in the future in his granny’s crystal ball which depicts The Shard in the video screens behind the Nag’s Head set but it is the only anomaly in a show that keeps fairly strictly to the series format and characters.
There are some great turns aside from Whitehouse, with Bennett leading the charge as a slippery Del Boy, mangling French vocabulary and aspiring to culture by talking about the “Pristine Chapel.”
I loved Dianne Pilkington’s Raquel and her solo number The Girl is beautifully affecting.
Jeff Nicholson is Boycie to the life, as is Peter Baker’s Trigger.

p>Many of the tunes sound familiar with lifts from Fiddler on the Roof and early Sondheim musicals, plus a fair helping of Music Hall but that is to be expected.
The timing could be tighter in the domestic scenes but that will come as it beds in.
We have to wait until the end for the best sight gag (you know which one!) and the appearance of one of the most beloved characters.
I won’t say who it is. But it is worth the wait.

Only Fools and Horses – The Musical is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 31 August

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BWW Review: ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES – THE MUSICAL, Theatre Royal Haymarket

★ ★ ★ ★

When it was announced that Trotters Independent Traders’ three-wheeled “yellow peril” was heading direct to London’s West End in the form of a new musical, a few eyebrows were raised. Only Fools and Horses – The Musical was the brainchild of TV series creator John Sullivan, though it has been realised by his son Jim and comedian Paul Whitehouse.

Taking a song written by John Sullivan and singer Chas Hodges, along with some notes and ideas, Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan have created a ‘greatest hits’ of sorts; over 40 hours of TV material has been filtered and spliced together to create this new two-hour stage show.

The show uses the “Dates” episode as a loose framework, with Del Boy meeting Raquel through a computer dating agency – each later discovering the other is not quite as they make themselves out to be…

Rodney is about to marry Cassandra and needs to find £2,000 to put towards their new flat, and he starts to wonder if he’s really good enough for her; Boycie and Marlene, meanwhile, are continuing their fertility treatment in the hope of starting a family, Grandad’s “Farmer Giles” are playing up, and Trigger’s just been given a medal by the council.

If the only thing you want out of a trip to the theatre is a deep and meaningful experience, then this show probably won’t be your cup of tea – it’s unashamedly driven by a need to entertain and a real sense of nostalgia. You know you’re onto a winner with most of the material, as it’s been tried and tested on our TV screens for nearly 40 years; never underestimate the thrill of seeing and hearing some of your favourite gags live on stage – some jokes just don’t get old.

This is a show that is unlikely to appeal to musical theatre purists; it’s all incredibly tongue-in-cheek, including a good helping of musical theatre pastiche. The Chas & Dave influence and music hall style numbers help it to translate surprisingly well into musical form – and if Lionel Bart can transform the dark & political Oliver Twist into a jolly, knees-up musical, then why can’t the Trotters have their moment on a West End stage?

The songs aren’t instant classics – Trigger’s “Gaze Into My Ball” (where he has a vision of gentrified Peckham) is maybe a step too far in the weird direction – but the TV show’s theme song, “Hooky Street”, and Chas & Dave’s “Margate” go down very well.

There is a certain irony about the ticket prices, given the financial straits in which the Trotters usually find themselves, however there are some good deals to be had as the slightly cheaper seats do seem to offer reasonable views.

Liz Ascroft’s incredible set design boasts multiple revolves, allowing for seamless changes of scenery: from being in the Nag’s Head, you can find yourself in the Trotters’ Nelson Mandela House flat in no time at all. It does have two levels, though most of the action takes place ‘downstairs’ – so if your view of the top of the set is cut off, you may not be as restricted as you first think.

In terms of bringing these well-loved characters to life, the cast have to tread a fine line between impressions and playing it in a way that’s natural for them – on the whole I think they manage to pull this off rather well. Jeff Nicholson has Boycie’s famous sneering laugh down to a tee, and Peter Baker puts in a memorable supporting performance as the gormless Trigger.

Ryan Hutton makes an excellent professional debut as Del’s dipstick younger brother Rodney, showing his slightly sensitive and insecure nature, as well as demonstrating natural comic timing.

It’s crazy to think that Paul Whitehouse initially hadn’t considered being part of the cast, as you honestly couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect to step into Lennard Pearce’s shoes as Grandad. He gives an understated performance that combines aspects of the character that were captured on screen with his own trademark comedy magic, bringing the house down with the slightest word.

At the centre of everything is Tom Bennett as wheeler-dealer Derek Trotter – from the physicality and mannerisms, to Del’s attempts to appear “cultivated”, he quite simply has it all. Bennett brings the cheeky chappy to the fore and pairs up well with Dianne Pilkington as love interest Raquel, particularly in their song “West End Wendy”, where Raquel reveals her acting aspirations. There is a liberal helping of Del’s “most favouritest” words and phrases, but Bennett makes it all feel very natural – and delivers the iconic moments with aplomb.

If you’re a fan of the original TV series then this show is a guaranteed side-splitter and a great bit of escapism; it remains absolutely true to the spirit of the programme, celebrating London and its people with a musical twist. There’s nothing hooky about this new show – so don’t be a plonker all your life, and get your hands on a ticket. You know it makes sense.

Only Fools and Horses – The Musical is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 31 August

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Early Doors at The Lowry, Salford Quays

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Craig Cash and Phil Mealey’s stage adaptation of the BBC2 sitcom is a warm, feel-good celebration of the characters that stays true to the original show, writes Mike Norton

The Early Doors stage production is one of the strangest experiments in live theatre.

Take a little-known BBC2 sitcom from 15 years ago and turn it into a stage show. The idea sounds vaguely mad.

But that’s exactly what its writers Craig Cash (of Royle Family fame) and Phil Mealey have done.

They have recreated the pub where the TV show was based, filled it with many of the original characters and written a modernised, two-hour live version.

Actually, from a staging perspective, the plan is not as ridiculous as it first sounds. The action of the 12 televised episodes, where the lives of characterful regulars of The Grapes revolved around landlord Ken and his live-in mother and daughter, never left the bar.

No, the biggest challenge of recreating Early Doors was its reputation. Much-loved by its fans, the programme had an accuracy, a humour and a depth of characterisation which were a considerable cut above your average sitcom.

So much so, that tickets for the show sold out in hours. Extra dates were added. They, too, sold out quickly. The show will soon move from the 466-seat Quays theatre (where we saw it last night) into the 1,730-seat Lyric theatre next door. Now an arena tour has been announced.

So the pressure was on Cash, Mealey and the cast to produce a performance which lived up to Early Doors’ reputation.

And they most certainly did. It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. A warm, feel-good celebration of the characters which stayed true to the original but never took itself too seriously.

From the moment Ken opened the doors on what was a clever, multi-layer version of the pub – to the Roddy Frame TV theme tune – we knew we were in for a treat.

Like the TV show, the story revolved around Ken, played with mastery by John Henshaw. And, like the TV show, the script sparkled with great one-liners, belly-laughs and a fair sprinkling of old-fashioned crudity.

Alongside Ken, bent coppers Phil and Nige – played by James Quinn and Peter Wight – also stole the show with an escalating series of hilarious indiscretions (“Evidence is the new buzzword Ken”).

But it would be wrong to single out a performance. Lisa Millett was brilliant as internet dater Debbie. Cash and Mealey were spot-on as emotional simpletons Joe and Duffy and the barbed banter between cleaner Winnie (Joan Kempson) and Ken’s mum Jean (now played by Judith Barker) was as sharp as ever.

Meanwhile, new faces Nick Birkinshaw as a believable Tommy, Eddie and Joan sound-alikes Freddie and June (Neil Hurst and Vicky Binns) and daughter Mel (Laura Woodward) all contributed ably to the ensemble. As did Ken’s love-interest Tanya, played with appropriate outrage at Ken’s romantic shortcomings by Susan Cookson.

There was one last contributor – the audience, which gleefully gasped, shouted and cheered along with the action. The love in the room for the characters and the actors was palpable.

The surprising musical finale was nothing short of a joy to be part of and Cash and Mealey left the stage to a standing ovation with the show’s reputation more than intact.

To paraphrase Early Door’s rallying cry – to the regiment! I’m glad I was there!

Mike Norton

Manchester Evening News

The Commitments: “worlds hardest working band has definitely brought soul to Southampton this week!”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

When this show was in the West End I saw it a number of times and so I was interested to see if it translates to a touring production?

There are a number of changes notably the start and end, plus the overall staging. However, did any of these detract from my enjoyment of revisiting an old favourite, absolutely not. In fact I would say in certain aspects it even improved it.

Written in 1986 by Roddy Doyle The Commitments tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

The Commitments is packed with more than 20 classic soul songs performed live on stage including: Night Train, Try A Little Tenderness, River Deep, Mountain High, In The Midnight Hour, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Save Me, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Reach Out, Uptight, Knock On Wood, I Can’t Turn You Loose and more.

Andrew Linnie previously of the London cast, returns to the company to play Jimmy. The right mix of frustration, sheer determination and knowing talent when he sees it, Linnie plays Jimmy well. Reprising his West End role as Deco is Brian Gilligan whose impressive vocal skill, really showed in belting out the iconic numbers. Gilligan’s acting was also strong, particularly in the scene where his characters arrogance and lack of respect for his fellow musicians, had practically everyone queuing up to hit him, this really illustrated how good he was. I’m sure some of the audience would testify to wanting to join the queue.

If you are unfamiliar with either the book or the film you may be forgiven for thinking that this show is one-dimensional and just a platform for a concert-like show. However you’d be way off the mark. This is multilayered, a story about relationships, respect, working together and realising the dream. Demonstrated beautifully by, amongst others, Jimmy’s Da played by Kevin Kennedy. At first making a joke of his sons idea and ambition but later in the closing scene we see his pride and support for his son Jimmy (Linnie). All this is conveyed by very few lines and little movement but these often wry killer lines are delivered with such precision and timing, we are left under no illusion of his feelings.

Other notable performances were, Padraig Dooney, Alex McMorran, Amy Penston, Leah Penston and Christina Tedders. I’ve always enjoyed Caroline Jay Ranger’s direction which gives rowdy, seemingly un-choreographed scenes, which are actually the complete reverse, an air of authenticity.  I easily felt transported back in time to the late 1980’s.

The finale as always got the whole audience to their feet and once again Gilligan wowed us with his immense frontman charismatic talent.

The worlds hardest working band has definitely brought soul to Southampton this week!

Review from Carn’s Theatre Passion

The Commitments: Spine-tingling soul played in perfect pitch

★ ★ ★ ★

Roddy Doyle’s stage version of The Commitments is finally back where it belongs — Dublin. The hardest working musical around received much critical acclaim following its London premiere, and it’s easy to see why. If like myself, you’re old enough to remember the original film, then you’re in for a real treat — and this time around you’ll actually get to sing along (out loud) with the familiar soul classics.

The superb set design from Soutra Gilmour perfectly captures 1980s Dublin. With the bleak concrete council estates, rough pubs and rundown community halls, a fitting backdrop is created for the motley group of young musicians from working class Dublin, who are trying to resurrect American soul. Not the easiest goal to achieve, but if anyone can do it, Jimmy Rabbitte certainly can — and so the World’s Hardest Working Band is born.

While the first half of the show is more like a play with songs intertwined, the second half is a fullyfledged musical that really gets the place going, with the audience (myself included) up off our seats dancing. This is largely thanks to the musical direction of Alan Berry and the crisp sound design of Rory Madden.

The mostly youthful (and largely unknown) cast is led by Andrew Linnie as Jimmy and Brian Gilligan as obnoxious frontman Deco. Gilligan’s superbly powerful and soulful voice, as he tears into classics like I Can’t Turn you Loose, Mustang Sally and, perhaps one of the most powerful soul songs of all time, otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness, steals the show with spine-tingling precision and pitch.

The dialogue is witty and gritty — as you would expect from us Dubliners — remaining faithful to the novel throughout. Some of the supporting cast’s attempts at a Dublin accent are commendable, however, it’s clear from the get-go which actors don’t hail from our fair city, which can take you out of the magical atmosphere of the musical itself. The swear-word count is exceptionally high, so think twice if you were planning on bringing the kids (I saw many upset faces at Billy Elliot as parents didn’t think the stage show would have as many expletives as the original film — you’ve been warned).

Meanwhile director Caroline Jay Ranger (Fawlty Towers Live) runs the show at perfect pace. The action, often taking place in several areas of the stage at once, runs with consistent synchronicity — it’s simply impossible not to get swept up in the show’s high-energy renditions of soul classics, so make sure bring your dancing shoes.

Review from Audrey Kane – Irish Daily Mail

The Commitments: Roddy Doyle’s classic explodes into Dublin and tears up Bord Gais Energy Theatre

The scene is set – it’s Dublin 1986 and the world’s hardest working soul band is on the edge of greatness.

The Commitments is undoubtedly the most unadulterated feel good celebration of soul to ever grace the Bord Gais Energy Theatre stage.

The Roddy Doyle classic might be three decades old but none of its charm, popularity or roof-raising energy have waned and this show, directed by C Jay Ranger is a veritable music and dance sensation.

Think Grease set in Cabra with many more smutty one-liners and you’ve got a sense of what unfolds during the stage spectacle.

The show is packed with more than 20 classic soul songs performed live on stage including: Night Train, Try A Little Tenderness, River Deep, Mountain High, In The Midnight Hour, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Save Me, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Reach Out, Uptight, Knock On Wood, and I Can’t Turn You Loose.

Highlights apart from the music? Coronation Street star Curly Watts stars and thug bouncer turned drummer Mickah – played by Sam Fordham – who stole the show.

Stuart Carolan, if you’re looking for any new cast members for the next Love/Hate, Mickah is your man.

Every cast member blew the roof off and a special mention has to go to The Commitments’ lead singer, Decco – played by Brian Gilligan – who genuinely should audition for Eurovision.
The film was worthy of an Oscar all those years ago in 1991, and this high-octane stage show is just as award-worthy.

Cheese-tastic in the extreme and bloody good fun, the encore after final curtain is one of the best parts of the gig.

There are no profound life lessons or enduring moral learnings to take away from the five-star performance other than the guy always gets the girl and no one will ever forgive Yoko Ono.

Review from

Simon Parris – Fawlty Towers Live Melbourne

Strong cast, expert direction and high production values elevate Fawlty Towers Live well above a mere indulgence in rose coloured nostalgia.

There is an inherent risk in messing with perfection. As a theatrical experiment, Fawlty Towers Live could have ended up an indulgent parody, a pale shadow of the original or an outdated bore. Instead, the world premiere staging of one of the greatest ever sitcoms is fabulously fresh and funny.

The cherished series has been adapted for the stage by original star John Cleese, who penned every episode with then wife Connie Booth, who played Polly. Cleese has been wise to enlist the services of experienced director Caroline Jay Ranger, whose input successfully shaped the play from the combined script of three of the original episodes.

Fans of Fawlty Towers are sure to enjoy this respectfully created, carefully polished homage. Fawlty Towers Live will earn roars of laughter from devotees and newcomers alike.

For the full review – please go to

Fawlty Towers Review – Amelia Swan

Caroline Jay Ranger directs and choreographs her cast to create a classically funny farce.

★ ★ ★ ★

The Comedy Theatre last night was filled with a light-hearted expectancy at the Melbourne opening performance of John Cleese’s reworking of his and Connie Boothe’s cult TV comedy. It was met with great satisfaction from the crowd, who laughed from beginning (literally as each characters very entrance was greeted with applause) to the uproarious end.

Cleese describes in the program that his process of turning three of his favourite episodes, The Salesman, The Rat and The Germans, into a theatre play, last January as one of ease. It is immediately a delight to see how well suited the pithy one-liners, physical gags and well-drawn characters of the original TV sitcom are to adaptation to the stage in the seamless farce that is the product of his endeavours. Caroline Jay Ranger directs and choreographs her cast to create a classically funny farce which harks back to the stage larking days of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, in its dependably excellent script and whipping comic timing.

Set over two days in the life of the Torquay hotel, the audience is immediately swept back into the frumpy neo-Victorian foyer of the hotel by a wonderful old fashioned stage set, by Liz Ashcroft, faithfully copied from the TV show with no detail missing. Like a huge dolls house interior, the moose head, the wall paper, an upstairs bedroom and the swinging double doors of the dining room create an illusion that one is transported back to 1975.

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Stage Whispers – Fawlty Towers Live

Peter Novakovich – How great is this? I found it funnier than the TV show.

John Cleese has taken three episodes and re-worked them for the stage, giving us this, the official Live version. By “re-worked them for the stage” I don’t mean a lazy dumping of ad-verbatim TV scripts into three separate acts. One of the clever things about the stage version is how the three episodes have been woven seamlessly into one play over two Acts, so that the three plots run together cohesively (but Act 1 is dominated by the Salesman while the Germans don’t appear until Act 2). Instead of getting sitcom episodes we get a proper play in its own right that is a brilliant farce observing “a day in the life” of the hotel and its staff.

Director Caroline Jay Ranger does a genius job making the show work.

The cast are perfect. For me the show was stolen by Deborah Kennedy -one of Australia’s grande dames of theatre- playing the demanding battle axe Mrs Richards, she of the dodgy hearing aid. She chewed the scenery (and the Cast) even when she was doing nothing but sitting in her room. On that point I’m glad one of my favourite lines from the TV show – the one about the piece of brain- was kept in.

The timing is exhilarating: The element of “bedroom farce” is perfectly realised, and if entries, exits, and pauses were Olympic events then this Cast and Director would be gold medallists. My only complaint is that I missed some of the lines because I was laughing so hard.

So does the show offer anything more than just a well-realised nostalgia-fest for ardent fans? Yes. Seeing this on stage makes you appreciate why Fawlty Towers has stood the test of time.

You’d be fawlty not to see it.

For the full review – please go to

Fawlty Towers Live delivers a nostalgic and hilarious production to Sydney for its world premiere

After the Pythons re-united for a brief run of shows at the O2 in London in 2014, John Cleese and the team behind the show started thinking about what else might work on the stage. Cleese’s brilliant, all-too-short but totally classic series Fawlty Towers seemed to be the obvious choice, and they immediately began to work to adapting it for the stage. One thing led to another and Sydney, Australia became the home for the show’s world premiere, and two years later here we are, with the live stage adaptation of the classic British comedy series having officially premiered in front of a sold out room at Sydney’s Roslyn Packer Theatre last night.

Instead of trying to create something new with the loved (and hated) characters, much as they did with the Python O2 show, Cleese and director Caroline Jay Ranger (who also worked on Monty Python Live at the O2) rested their laurels on what came before. The philosophy: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The result are elements of three episodes of the original series brought together into a mishmash of hilarity, awkward moments and accidents involving moose heads. If you’re a fan of the original show, you know what’s coming, though the set up to interweave the characters and storylines makes them feel fresh – as does the Aussie cast’s take on the characters. Though with respect, perhaps I’m just enjoying the distance of time between myself and the last time I saw the series.

Stephen Hall is brilliant as Fawlty – as task especially impressive when you’re having to play John Cleese in front of John Cleese, who does John Cleese better than anyone. Though the iconic Python seemed to confirm his approval by laughing louder than all of us during the show. Hall should know Cleese well, too – he played Cleese’s roles in the Australian production of Spamalot in 2007. His timing was excellent, and the ensemble cast behind him all brought on their own takes to the iconic characters, especially Blazey Best‘s Sybil Fawlty, who got away with adding just the right amount of Australian flair to her performance. Syd Brisbane was great as Manuel, and Deborah Kennedy‘s Mrs Richards reminded us all at just how frustrating that character was in its original incarnation – beautifully adding to every situation. Paul Bertram captured The Major perfectly while Aimee Horne was a spitting image of the original Polly and served the character well.

Looking beyond the excellent ensemble cast, who were well assembled by Lynne Ruthven, the staging was superb, cleverly bringing in two levels to the set, allowing Mrs Richards’ room to be on show, alongside the dining room, the reception, the office and a view of the rooftops of Torquay. It held true to the original series, with Liz Ashcroft‘s set design providing plenty of detail for fans, and allowing the comedy to develop very naturally in the space. Lighting design from Ian Scott and music cues from the original TV series helped pass time and break up the scenes, done simply enough to make sense of it, and elegantly enough to make it look good in the process.

The only way to possibly criticise the show is that fans will know what’s coming. The waves of laughter in the room before the punchlines hit was further proof of this – just knowing what was coming was putting a smile on our faces. Things are tossed on their head just enough, mixed around and reproduced for the stage, that it delivers fresh laughs – but you still know what to expect. That said, the way they brought all these storylines to a head at the end though was brilliant, and ultimately Cleese and the team found a way to bring back the best moments of the series which will please Fawlty fans and introduce new ones to its brilliance. And no matter what category you find yourself in, you will laugh. You will laugh until it hurts. Perhaps proof once and for all that this character and this series is timeless. Basil Fawlty will live together, first on screen and now on stage, and this is a show that fans of the series can’t afford to miss.

Read more at the


★ ★ ★ ★

As a huge fan of both John and Fawlty Towers, I commissioned my man in Australia — the well-respected journalist Frank Thorne — to do a fair and impartial review of the play.

And guess what? He loved it.

FRANK THRONE in Sydney – 4 out of 5 stars

IN the best traditions of great British comedy, madcap hotel owner Basil Fawlty is back – and making audiences laugh all over again.

The much-loved calamitous cast of characters of Basil, his stern gossipy missus Sybil, pretty Polly the much put upon chambermaid and, of course, loveable mystified Manuel – who still knows nothing because he’s from “Barthelona” – have returned larger than life.

Almost 40 years after the hilarious television comedy ended, John Cleese has cleverly brought Fawlty faithfully back to life, writing a brand new version of the sitcom for the stage.

Fawlty Towers – Live is a two-hour romp of high farce, fun and frolics.

The interior set of the fictional Torquay seaside hotel has been faithfully reproduced, which makes the audience feel they are about to check in at reception themselves..

You would expect to see this show on the West End stage. Except the joke is that Cleese has chosen to launch it half a world away in Australia, where it will tour for the next five months before going on to New Zealand.

The reason is that Cleese believes audiences and critics alike will be kinder to his production than if he launched it in London (where he claims the Press hate him for his views). The iconic BBC TV show is still enormously popular Down Under and has regularly been voted among the best TV comedies of all time.

The stage show, which will officially enjoy its world premier in Sydney to a sell-out audience on Saturday, previewed this evening, is a re-crafted amalgam of three of the favourite BBC TV episodes written along with his then wife Connie Booth back in the 1970s.

It includes memorable moments when well-meaning Basil agonisingly orders his Polly, “Don’t mention the war”, having already Goose stepped and upset a group of German hotel diners, asking them if they want “Eva Braun cocktail for starters”, telling them: “Well, you started it – you invaded Poland!”

In other words, all the best bits of the original Fawlty Towers with new comic twists adapted for the stage by former Monty Python front man Cleese.

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Exclusive Details Behind Fawlty Towers Stage Show

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.”

Read more at the


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.

Read more at the Daily Review

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse – Legends
UK tour 2015

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse have been working together for 25 years. Now, for the first time ever, they will all appear live in a UK tour that promises to revive and revitalise a quarter of a century of classic comedy characters.

For the full tour dates and tickets go to –

Harry and Paul leave packed Plymouth crowd in stitches as part of birthday tour

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse: Legends! Tour 2015 Plymouth Pavilions

AFTER twenty-five years of performing together, you’d have thought the likes of Loadsamoney, Kevin the Teenager and the Scousers being taken on the road would be well overdue, Carly Squires writes.
And you’d be right. The award-winning writing and performing duo, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse have thankfully decided that the best way to celebrate their quarter of a century birthday was to finally undertake their first ever live tour …

…Although the title of ‘Legends’ for the tour seems to have been selected with a stroke of sarcasm, this performance echoed the true legacy of the comedy duo.

Read more – Plymouth Herald

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse at New Theatre, Oxford
★ ★ ★ ★

It feels appropriate, as Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse celebrate their 25-year comedy partnership with a live tour, that their publicity poster shows them as the chiselled faces on Mount Rushmore. These two have weathered the storm while sketch comedy has gone out of fashion. Their Old Gits, Smashie and Nicey, the Scousers and many more are the modern standards of the genre: joyous, broad and quotable.
There were two questions, then, as they took to the stage for their exuberantly titled Legends! tour. First: would this be more than a two-man medley of old catchphrases: “Loadsamoney!”, “Only me!” “. . . very, very drunk at the time”? Second: could they make sketches feel contemporary rather than belonging largely to the past?
The answer to both, mainly, was yes. Over more than two hours there were a few cheesy puns and odd choices. However, the pair also slanted their mischief towards what matters now, dragging their characters into 2015 with topical references and canny stagecraft.
Enfield’s Stavros, in his kebab shop, had to be bailed out by a German customer. A big screen showed the filthy contents of Kevin the Teenager’s smartphone, while other sketches were beamed on to the stage from cameras in unusual places, including in an ice cream vendor’s tray. As a football boss, Whitehouse flew fabulously through a multilingual address to his multilingual players. There were neatly judged references to the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, especially in a naughtier, faster second half. (Top Gear got a spiky drubbing, while posh Tim Nice-But-Dim seemed more real than ever as he daftly jabbered on about David Cameron and Boris Johnson.)
Of course, trying to serve a 25-year back catalogue made this a fairly rushed buffet. Some targets were easy (for example, the DJs Smashie and Nicey getting snared by Yewtree). Despite Enfield and Whitehouse’s energy, some chums were missed: especially Kathy Burke as Waynetta Slob. Instead, a female cast member (Catherine Shepherd) flitted between parts including that of a female comedian who was warned by old-school Mr Cholmondley-Warner to “know her limits”. What a shame so many people still seem to agree.
There’s that thing again, though — that the characters have stayed relevant and have been assembled into a gloriously silly pantomime with feet in the past and the present. There’s life in these Old Gits yet.

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Comic Relief Danceathon

The first ever Comic Relief Danceathon, on Sunday 8th March 2015 – Your chance to strut your stuff for six hours and help change lives. You can follow along with a host of stars including Caroline Flack, Davina McCall, Rufus Hound and your host, Claudia Winkleman, at The SSE Arena, Wembley as you take on 12 different dance styles from Disco to West End Musicals.


The Commitments

The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians and friends into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced. The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesizer band – the opening scene we find them playing but being ignored in a shop window – who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a number of wannabes before finalising the new line up who he names The Commitments. The humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, and proceed through early rehearsals for their first gig. Just as they improve and begin to get a name for themselves they combust. The backing singers are all getting off with the middle aged horn legend, the singer has entered Eurovision and the saxophone player has dangerous leaning towards a jazz career.

Featuring soul classics Night Train, Try A Little Tenderness, In The Midnight Hour, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Save Me, Mustang Sally, and many more.

★ ★ ★ ★

Quite simply this show is an evening of sublime entertainment. if you love live music especially Soul this is the show for you! I’m utterly baffled as to why it is closing, it was a Sunday night, a big theatre over four levels (I think), not a spare seat and every single person was on their feet at the end of the show! This should not close, it’s a travesty – tour announcement soon please? – Breaking News; My sources have just informed me that there has been a tour announced for 2017! Superb! I’m booking it in my diary now!


Now for something wonderfully familiar: Monty Python make a spectacular return – Stephen Armstrong

Nobody is under any illusion as to why the Pythons are back together. It’s been the feature of their interviews, it’s explicitly stated in the programme, and they mutter a few ad libs about it on stage: the money. For a troupe whose sharpest howls of mockery were reserved for accountants, it should be disappointing.

In the end, all revolutions are for sale. From Tracey Emin’s transgressive My Bed — denounced when shortlisted for the Turner prize, sold for £2.2m last week — to Mick Jagger’s scream of frustration against the fake Satisfaction of the commercial world, subversion can’t be faked, so it has to be purchased. Watching the five surviving Pythons trip through the hits, however, the one thing it’s impossible to feel is disappointment.

Continue reading –


Tonight’s The Night at the Palace Theatre Manchester – Lynda Moyo
★ ★ ★ ★

You would expect a musical featuring the songs of Rod Stewart to be a hit with his devoted fans.

But theatregoers of all musical persuasions can expect to be won over by this charmer of a jukebox musical based on the Scottish rocker’s rich songbook.

The songs of Stewart are woven perfectly into musical theatre style, and the arrangements for the stage are wonderful.

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Tonight’s The Night at the Palace Theatre Manchester – Nikki Cotter

Penned by Ben Elton and featuring over twenty classic Rod Stewart hits, Tonight’s The Night launches its eight month long UK tour in Manchester this week. Revamped and revived since its 2003 West End run and subsequent sell out tour, this all singing, all dancing and on occasions all thrusting production is here to spread some love and sprinkle Manchester audiences with a little bit of rock star quality.

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Tonight’s The Night at the Palace Theatre Manchester – Paul Jones
★ ★ ★ ★

Even if you only know a handful of Rod Stewart songs this cast will soon have you tapping your toes and singing along. The sheer talent of the cast deserves to be seen far and wide, and their performances will, as Rod himself once sang, stay with me.

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The Commitments is the musical we’ve been waiting for — so good, our critic almost weeps

Christopher Hart – The Sunday Times

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The wonder is that it took so long. After enduring cruel punishments such as the Take That and Spice Girls musicals, at last we have a jukebox musical to sing about. Roddy Doyle’s delightful 1987 novel is made up mostly of dialogue, so perfect for dramatisation — and it’s all about music. Then came Alan Parker’s cracking fillum of 1991, and now we have Dublin’s saviours of soul in a form where you can see them in the flesh, performing live (and drinking, and fighting) right in front of you. The result is sublime. Get your ticket now – although, to be honest, this show will probably run for a decade or more.

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The Cook And The Insurgent.

By Hassan Abdulrazzak PhD

BBC RADIO 3 Project Celebrating Sanctuary at the Southbank

Director Caroline Jay Ranger


Falah       Raad Rawi

Rasoul     Robert Mountford

Ziad        Ali Khalil

Gus         Brett Brown



SUNDAY 13th JUNE 2010

An Artful Makeover

Colm Byrne –

★ ★ ★ ★

Tortured by questions of sex, virtue and brutality, Neil LaBute’s play explores the depths we reach and the price we pay for love, for art. Killer soundtrack by Slam Cartell and Ella Edmondson.

The Shape of Things is connected with two other plays – Fat Pig and Pretty Things. All explore our obsession with surface values. But whether this play is truly concerned with our material compulsions, the price of art and love or whether he simply pushes female manipulation tales under the guise of relevant social questions, is all open to debate. When you come out of the theatre, that is exactly what you will be doing; questioning and debating. That’s worth getting a pair of clean jeans on and having a wash for.

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