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Fantastic Mr Fox, the stage show with music by Doctor Who's Arthur Darvill, comes to the Orchard Theatre, Dartford

By Angela Cole

Fantastic Mr Fox is a playful re-telling of Roald Dahl’s much-loved book about clever Mr Fox outfoxing three greedy farmers, brought to life on stage with live music.

The musical adaptation is a flagship production for the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations marking the centenary of the world’s No.1 storyteller last year. Published in 1970, Fantastic Mr Fox was made into a film in 2009, with the voice of George Clooney in the title role.

The stage show was commission by Nuffield and Curve in association with Lyric Hammersmith with music by Arthur Darvill – Rory in BBC TV’s Doctor Who and as the Rev Paul Coates on ITV’s Broadchurch.

Mr Fox is smart, clever and rather fantastic Fantastic Mr Fox is coming to Dartford

Mr Fox is smart, clever and rather fantastic: Fantastic Mr Fox is coming to Dartford

Here, he talks TV roles, making music and the love of Dahl's stories as the show comes to Dartford.


Audiences will recognise you from your acting roles in Broadchurch and Doctor Who, but they might not realise that you are also an established composer. Is juggling both careers a challenge?

It is a challenge but a joyous challenge. I couldn’t just do one or the other, I have to do both. I have a fun job and I would never complain about it!


Fantastic Mr Fox is a juicy tale of greed, pride and the power of friendship, coming to Dartford

Fantastic Mr Fox is a juicy tale of greed, pride and the power of friendship, coming to Dartford

Do you think Road Dahl’s writing is something that translates easily to the stage?

I don’t think anything translates easily to stage but I think his stories are so rich and full of brilliant well defined characters that it is a real joy to see these characters, especially those from Fantastic Mr Fox jump out of the book.

How does it feel to create music for something as universally loved as a Road Dahl story?

It has been a real privilege to write music for this. It’s a pinch yourself moment. When re-reading the book I thought “I love this book but I don’t know if I can do this”, which I think is a good reaction. It has been about honouring what Dahl wrote and making sure the music tells the story in the best we can tell it.

Were you a fan of the book Fantastic Mr Fox growing up?

I am a massive Roald Dahl fan – he was basically my introduction to reading. I remember reading Fox in my cabin bed that I had growing up in Birmingham. I read it in one go, in one night and just absolutely loved it. It had a drastic impact on the way my world was shaped. Dahl made the most disgusting things in life seem like the most joyous. He also had a great sense of justice, which can only be a good thing.

What did you want to capture about the story and its characters in the music?

There are a definite group of characters In Fantastic Mr Fox; humans and animals. I wanted to give them both a very different sound to start with and as the story develops, these sounds slightly cross over depending on what is happening. The farmers have a dirty earthly English sound and the animals are freer. Mr Fox is arrogant at times and Mouse sings about cheese, which is very sweet.

Arthur Darvill, composer, as Rip Hunter in Doctor Who

Arthur Darvill, composer, as Rip Hunter in Doctor Who

What do you hope audiences take away from the show?

It’s a perfect family show for all ages. I hope audiences take away melodies that they can sing on their way home. This show is so much fun and the right people get their comeuppance. It is not black and white. You will go home discussing the moral content of the story whilst laughing at the jokes.


Fantastic Mr Fox will be at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford from Tuesday, February 28 to Sunday, March 5. Tickets cost from £17.50, visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

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