UPDATE - NEW CAST & NEW VENUES
Lancelot, King Arthur, and Lady of the Lake Play Musical Chairs
Hank Azaria recently returned to Monty Pyton's Spamalot on Broadway at New York's Shubert Theatre on December 2. He rejoined David Hyde Pierce, who together with Azaria originated the numerous roles they play in the show (most notably Sir Robin and Sir Lancelot). Both actors announced in October that they were extending their commitment to Spamalot until April 2006.
Azaria took a leave of absence this summer from Spamalot to film the Showtime series Huff. He left June 6 and returned December 2. During his absence, he was replaced by Alan Tudyk, the Texas-born actor who is perhaps best known for his film work in I, Robot, A Knight's Tale, and recently the sci-fi film Serenity. Reviews during Tudyk's tenure were excellent and Spamalot continued to set box office records.
While December marks the return of the prodigal Lancelot, Sara Ramirez and Tim Curry will end their run as Lady of the Lake and King Arthur respectively next week. On December 18 the two will take their final bows, concluding a landmark phase in the life of the show. The two originated the roles, beginning in Chicago, which earned them each a Tony nomination, with Sara taking home the award for her category. Replacing the two stars will be London theater star Simon Russell Beale and Lauren Kennedy. The two actors have already started rehearsals and will make their debut on December 20.
Simon Russell Beale has earned awards for his performances in stagings of Othello, Candide, Hamlet, Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night. Winner of Olivier, Evening Standard and London Critic’s Circle awards, among many other theatrical accolades, Russell Beale is an associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National and Almeida theatres and received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2003. He made his Broadway debut two seasons ago in Jumpers, receiving a Tony nomination for his work in that show.
Tim Curry leaves the show with very large boots to fill. In addition to his Tony-nominated role of King Arthur in the show, Curry is still remembered for his starring role in The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway and its 1975 cult film version. He’s since done many plays and films, lots of TV work and earned Tony nominations for both My Favorite Year and his role as Mozart in Amadeus.
Lauren Kennedy recently starred as Nellie Forbush in Trevor Nunn's revival of South Pacific at London’s Royal National Theatre. Her Broadway credits include Les Misérables, Sunset Boulevard (also on National Tour), Side Show as Daisy Hilton and Cinderella at The New York City Opera.
Tony Award-winner Sara Ramirez, who by many accounts steals the show in Spamalot, previously made a splash in the original musical A Class Act. In October the Mexican-born actress announced her decision to leave Spamalot. Since then it was announced that she will have a recurring role on the popular primetime medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" starting in January.
U.S. Touring Production Plans
Fans who do not have the means or inclination to travel to New York may have an opportunity to see the traveling production of Monty Python's Spamalot next year.
Tickets are already on sale in Boston and Chicago, the first two venues for the tour.
The national tour will begin March 7 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston before returning to Chicago (where it made its world premiere), this time at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Dates at Washington, D.C.'s National Theatre and Pittsburgh CLO's Benedum Center have also been announced (see below). Further stops at major cities in the U.S. and Canada as well as casting are yet to be announced. Here are the venues and dates currently known:
The Pittsburgh venue was arranged after theater-goers at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera voted overwhelmingly to bring Spamalot to Pittsburgh through ballots placed in audience programs.
Residents of California, Nevada or Arizona will have to do some travelling unfortunately to catch the show next year.
On July 25, the Associated Press reported that Monty Python's Spamalot will be featured as a dedicated attraction at the Wynn Las Vegas resort and casino. As part of the deal with the show's producers, Spamalot will not play in theaters in California, Nevada or Arizona so that the Wynn Las Vegas can draw more visitors.
Steve Wynn, the casino's owner, said that he will build a 1,600-seat theater, one of three that was planned for the $2.7 billion mega-resort. The venue and staging of the show will reportedly cost more than $50 million.
The agreement calls for Spamalot to play at Wynn Las Vegas for 10 years if the hotel-casino picks up a three-year renewal option. The cast hasn't been determined but the show is scheduled to open in 2007.
The Las Vegas production will likely be 90 minutes to suit the tastes of theater-goers there, compared with the about two-hour version in New York. Spamalot will be performed 12 times a week, with ticket prices from $80 to $100.
Wynn said he will also add a retail component and restaurant to complement the show.
UK Python fans can also breathe a sigh a relief. In June, the Broadway press noted that West End producers had been flying out to see the show in New York to consider backing a possible transfer. Shortly after, Mike Nichols, the show's director, confirmed that a London production was very likely. He said, "Plans are underway. I don't have the exact dates, but basically (the London production) will happen next year."
Just last month, there were reports that Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatres company, which owns and manages several theaters in London, were in discussions with producers to bring Spamalot to the West End. West End watchers say this means that the show will likely play at either the Palace, the Adelphi, or the Cambridge Theatre, which are all of suitable size for a Spamalot production.
Reports are that the show may be partially re-written when it takes up residence in London to suit the sense of humor of theatre-goers there, as the current show is filled with jokes tailored for American audiences.
From Silver Screen to Stage to...
And a movie deal? Back stage at the Tony Awards this past June, Mike Nichols announced that discussions were already underway to turn the show into a movie. "But if I have my way," he added, "that will be many years in the future."
If movie adaptations of shows like The Producers and Rent (both due in theaters in month) are successful, who knows, perhaps we'll see Monty Python back on the silver screen!