It may not be the first TV show you’d expect to witness in musical theatre form. But Only Fools And Horses The Musical is just a few weeks away from opening at Theatre Royal Haymarket, and our money’s on it replicating its “lovely jubbly” success on the boards, judging from these first photos.
And as well as sharing the first glimpse of the cast in costume, Only Fools And Horses The Musical’s creators have spoken about how the stage show came to be. Jim Sullivan, son of the late, great John Sullivan, and co-creator of the production, said: “My Dad had been considering adapting the series to a musical for many years but sadly never got to fully commit to it. When we began developing the idea back in 2015 the first thing I did was to search my Dad’s notes.
“I knew from talking with him that he wanted to base the story around the ‘Dates’ episode, in which Del and Raquel first met (his personal favourite), and I found snippets of ideas he’d written down and a two-page opening scene. A few months later I was helping my Mum clear out the garage (at the family home in Surrey) when I came across an old cassette tape with the words ‘This Time Next Year’ written on it. We played the song and there was Chas and Dave (as Del and Rodney) belting out “We’re gonna be alright, the good times are on their way…”.
“Mum recalled that Dad had gone to Chas’s studio back in the late 1990’s to work on a song idea and this was obviously the result. So we had the beginning of an opening scene and what I felt would make a great and uplifting final song. Our job then was to fill in the middle bit.”
He added that the process of writing the musical “… was a big challenge. The world of Only Fools is so rich with characters and history; it spanned over two decades and included births, deaths and marriages. We wanted to stay faithful to the original material as much as possible, but without simply regurgitating it. The characters, plots and themes were already there, so it was a case of reweaving them, and within a slightly different timeline, into our story.”
And on its cast, which stars comedy giant Paul Whitehouse as Grandad, along with Tom Bennett (as Del Boy) and Ryan Hutton (Rodney), Jim said: “It was important to us that we cast actors who can embrace the roles, but also make them their own. And the cast that we’ve put together is fantastic and will do just that.”
Performances begin 9 February.