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Latest theatre news (April 2005)
Spamalot on Broadway
Spamalot's advance ticket sale now stands at over $25million

Mark Shenton sees Monty Python given a Broadway
make-over, and British directors tackling American classics


In the topsy-turvy world of Broadway, the latest hit musical is one inspired by the lunacy of Britain's very own Monty Python.

Spamalot is the biggest, and most improbably funny, smash hit in town.

Eric Idle
Python Eric Idle has written the book and lyrics for the stage musical

"Lovingly ripped off", in the words of the show's poster, from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it has been adapted by original Python Eric Idle, who has written the book and lyrics and co-written the music with John Du Prez.

Full endorsement and support has come from the surviving Pythons, all of whom were on hand at the Broadway first night, and one of whom, John Cleese, is additionally to be heard in the show as the voice of God.

While Idle has commented that the lawyers' fees to draw up the contracts for the stage musical have exceeded the entire budget of the original film, the money is also flowing back into the pot very quickly.

much loved scenes

With a reported budget of some $11million, the show's advance ticket sale now stands at over $25million – with over $2million of that taken on the single day that followed the show's opening night.

"Audiences lucky enough to get tickets are treated to a sensationally silly cartoon strip of a show..."
Mark Shenton

A further $500,000 is being taken daily for tickets that are currently on sale to January 8, 2006, with no availability now before July.

Audiences lucky enough to get tickets are treated to a sensationally silly cartoon strip of a show that joyfully replays all the much loved scenes from the cult comedy, including 'Bring Out Your Dead' and the Knight who keeps on fighting, even as he loses his arms, legs and finally his head.

And sophisticated New Yorkers are losing their heads over it, too. It may all be instantly forgettable, but who notices when you're laughing so hard?

strong English signature

The Holy Grail – which turns here into a pursuit to create a hit Broadway musical – is triumphantly achieved and performed to giddily irreverent perfection by a cast led by Tim Curry as King Arthur, David Hyde Pierce as Sir Robin and Hank Azaria as a rather gay Sir Lancelot.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has taken flight over Broadway

While Spamalot cheerfully wears its English heart on its sleeve (and will surely be heading home soon to brighten up the West End), London's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has just taken flight over Broadway, too, continuing a pervasive influence of all things British.

There's also a strong English signature to new productions of American classics like Albee's Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (currently being revived in a hit production with Kathleen Turner, under the direction of Brit Anthony Page).

And a pair of Tennessee Williams' plays, A Streetcar Named Desire (starring Natasha Richardson and directed by Edward Hall) and the just opened The Glass Menagerie, with Jessica Lange and Christian Slater starring under the direction of David Leveaux.

useful links
spamalot (The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites)

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