Entertainment Hive 2020

Stephen Hall brings the laughs in Fawlty Towers Live

By Honey B

A little voice told Stephen Hall he was on the right track at the Fawlty Towers Live auditions. Hall had been for three auditions and at the third audition the man himself, John Cleese, was in the Sydney theatre. “We were down to the last audition in Sydney and there were four or five of every character – your Basil’s, Polly’s and Sybil’s – and they were mixing and matching us,’’ Hall reminisces. “At different times throughout the long day that went from 10am to 6pm, we’d all be milling around in the foyer conserving our energy. “I’m standing there and I heard a voice right behind me talking in my left ear and it gave me quite a fright! “The voice said: ‘I just want to tell you that you are doing wonderfully well’. “I just said thank you so many times and I thought that was a very good sign.’’ It wasn’t the only good sign or memorable moment Hall had on the day. “When I was auditioning I was actually paired with Blazey Best who won the role of Sybil. “It was the start of the day and we had gone in to audition together and we made John Cleese laugh. “It was one of the best sounds I have ever heard – it’s this great big wheezy laugh.’’ Fawlty Towers Live is sure to garner many, many laughs from audiences across Australia and New Zealand as it incorporates the plots from three much-loved episodes including The Hotel Inspectors, The Germans and Communication Problems. “John Cleese has adapted and interwoven these three episodes and the characters are mingled across these different stories while still retaining all of the spirit. “Across this big, new two-act story is a new world of Fawlty Towers which is just as brilliant as the old world of Fawlty Towers. “The show just speeds up and speeds up and speeds up across this one hilarious day and just takes on a life if its own.’’ Hall says he can remember when the script of Fawlty Towers Live arrived on his doorstep and describes it as a “real red letter day’’. “Before I opened the envelope I just knew that this was a momentous day. “Just to read the first new gags that John Cleese has written for Fawlty Towers in 40 years and these gags just became even slicker and better when we got into rehearsals. “This show is so meticulously crafted and choreographed and because of the physicality of it and that it’s a farce – you have to be on your game. “It’s a beautiful and manic dance every night.’’ Hall says playing hotel proprietor Basil Fawlty is a joy every night, but he has to stay fit for the physical role. “He’s such a character and he is so complex – he reacts to the world around him in a true yet heightened way. “As soon as I found out I had the role I had to do yoga for the first time in my life as I have to stretch the hamstrings before the show. “I also have to do vocals as there is a lot of shouting, crying and screaming during the show and I am not off stage very often. “The show is an incredible workout and I am drenched halfway through act one. Doing the show eight times a week your body gets used to it – I certainly sleep very well at night!’’ Hall is best-known for his hilarious Python-esque role on Shaun Michallef’s Mad As Hell on the ABC, he’s also no stranger to the Monty Python world having starred in the 2007 premier season of Monty Phyton’s Spamalot. Fawlty Towers Live, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide from Wednesday, October 26, to Sunday, 13 November. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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