King Arthur in Hollywood

Spamalot (2005 Original Broadway Cast)~ Eric Idle, Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce, John Du Prez, Tim Curry (Audio CD)

Chicago to Eat Ham as Monty Python's Spamalot Debuts in December Before Broadway

By Ernio Hernandez

February 26, 2004

Monty Python's Spamalot the Broadway-bound stage musical based on the British sketch comedy team's film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" will have its world premiere at Chicago's Shubert Theatre, Dec. 21, 2004 to Jan. 16, 2005. The Chicago debut of Spamalot will be part of the Broadway In Chicago 2004-2005 Season Series. Tickets are currently on sale for subscriptions and groups of 20 or more by calling (312) 977-1710.

The self-proclaimed "officially ripped-off" stagework features a book by Eric Idle, based on the screenplay he co-wrote with Monty Python creators Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

The show will include three songs ("Brave Sir Robin," "He's Going to Tell," and "Knights of the Round Table") from the original 1975 film and a completely new score with music and lyrics by Idle and composer John Du Prez ("A Fish Called Wanda"). "I always had in the back of my mind that 'The Grail' would make a good musical and starting to work on it," Eric Idle told Playbill On-Line. "We just took it up and recorded some songs and we sent it to the [other] Pythons and they loved it and said 'Yes, absolutely, go ahead.'" If all goes well, according to creator Idle, the show moves to Broadway in March 2005.

Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on their quest for the Holy Grail. The show will boast "a chorus line of legless knights, men in tights (with legs), killer rabbits and dancing divas who create unforgettable musical production numbers." Creator Eric Idle, in the show's announcement, promises it will be "almost as good as anything else opening in Chicago that week." Mike Nichols ("The Graduate," "Angels in America") who brought another British comedy sketch show, The Play What I Wrote, to Broadway will direct the work produced by Ostar Boyett Productions. Scenic designer Tim Hatley (Private Lives) is also onboard the project.

Casting is in the works for actors who will portray more than 30 characters in Spamalot. "'Who's going to be in it?' is the next big question," Idle explains, "We're looking for six major funny people and two major funny women. They play the bulk of everything. So, you're looking for a Cleese-type, a Gilliam-type, a Jones-type, a Palin-type and a Graham Chapman-type. One of these essential things about Python theatre is that everybody plays everything."

"I like the title Spamalot a lot," Idle stated in a release, "We tested it with audiences on my recent US tour and they liked it as much as I did, which is gratifying. After all, they are the ones who will be paying Broadway prices to see the show."

The comedy troupe rose to fame with their BBC television show "Monty Python's Flying Circus," then gained international acclaim by turning their sketches and songs into films including "Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different," "Monty Python's Life of Brian" and "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life."

The only authorized stage version, thus far, of the original "Monty Python" sketches was seen at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival albeit performed in French. The five living authors of the comedy series granted permission to French producer Rémy Renoux. The estate of the late Graham Chapman also gave its blessing for the impresario's unique adaptation.

The world premiere of Monty Python's Spamalot will play a pre Broadway run at the Shubert Theatre, located at 22 W. Monroe Street in Chicago, IL. For more information on the Broadway In Chicago season, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.