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Author Topic:   Spamalot
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posted July 09, 2004 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
'Frasier' Star Lands Monty Python Role

Former Frasier star David Hyde Pierce and Rocky Horror Picture Show actor Tim Curry have been named among the cast of Eric Idle's new Monty Python musical. The acting pair and funnyman Hank Azaria will take the leads in the Broadway-bound production of Spamalot. The King Arthur legend spoof, which became cult Monty Python film Monty Python & The Holy Grail, will be directed by Oscar winner Mike Nichols. Pierce, who played Frasier's brother Niles Crane in the hit sitcom, will play Sir Robin and Curry will play King Arthur. Azaria will take on the role of Sir Lancelot. The show is set to debut in Chicago, Illinois, in December, before beginning a Broadway run in February.

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posted September 08, 2004 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MichaelMon   Click Here to Email MichaelMon     Edit/Delete Message
I don't think this one will work. I hope it does. I love Monty Python. It seems to be trying to capitalize on the whole movie to the stage trend right now without any really strong new ideas behind it.

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posted January 12, 2005 09:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message
'A Chorus Line' to Return to Broadway

Robert Simonson Playbill On-Line

A Chorus Line, one of the biggest hits in Broadway history and a landmark work of the musical comedy genre, will return to the Great White Way in 2006.

Opening will be Sept. 21, 2006. The theatre hasn't been named. A Chorus Line spent its 15-year Broadway life at the Shubert Theatre. But, as that house will soon be home to the expected megahit Spamalot, it's unlikely the show will return to the theatre.

A Chorus Line will be produced by the well known and well-connected entertainment lawyer John Breglio, who represented the musical's director-choreographer-conceiver Michael Bennett while he was alive and still handles his estate. Breglio's many theatre clients include Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, Stephen Sondheim and August Wilson.

The credit will mark Breglio's Broadway producing debut. "I feel like I've tried to guide and help hundreds of producers over the years," Breglio told Playbill On-Line. "This one was sort of inevitable for me. It's the closest thing to me in my career that I've ever done." Breglio and Bennett joined forces in the early '70s. After A Chorus Line, they formed a producing partnership with choreographer Bob Avian and Susan MacNair called Quadrille Productions, though Breglio eventually returned to his practice.

Also participating in the revival will be the show's surviving creators, including Marvin Hamlisch, designer Robin Wagner and Avian, who was billed as "co-choreographer" in the original production. Avian will direct the new mounting. Wagner will recreate the bare-stage-and-mirrors set that characterized the original.

Also teaming with Avian will be original cast member Baayork Lee, who will assist in recreating Bennett's original staging and choreography.

Toward the end of the original's long run, the creators added a line to the program that read "Time: 1975." Breglio said the piece will still remain rooted in that year. "We're treating it as a period piece," he explained. "We won't be changing any words. The themes of Chorus Line go far beyond any words in the peice. I hope we're right. Only the public will tell us that. To try to take it out of its time, then your'e tinkering. We explored that possibility, talked about it and rejected it."

A Chorus Line has a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, and lyrics by Edward Kleban, who later became the subject of the show A Class Act. Bennett and Kleban died in 1987, followed by Kirkwood in 1989 and Dante in 1991.

The staging will be capitalized at the relatively low price of $7 to $8 million.

A Chorus Line began life at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. It is about a collection of Broadway gypsies who tell there stories and reveal their fears as they go through the fraught and trying process of trying out for the chorus of a new show. It was revolutionary not only for the long workshop process that created the show (and which birthed a workshop ethos which has persisted-for better or worse-in nonprofit theatre to this day), but for epitomizing the "concept musical," a genre which began with such Sondheim works as Company and Follies and reaches its peak in Line.

The cast included such then-unsung performers as Wayne Cilento, Robert LuPone, Priscilla Lopez, Kelly Bishop (then called Carole Bishop) and Donna McKechnie. Though many went on to productive careers, no one from the cast became a major star. Breglio said he suspected the new cast would also be composed of largely unknown performers.

"It was always this thing that emerged out of anonymity and it exploded. It was this little thing downtown that happened. I want to preserve as best as I can what it is."

The well-remembered score includes "One," "Nothing," "At the Ballet" and "What I Did for Love."

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posted February 18, 2005 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Broadway in the Loop
Increasingly, major theatrical productions are previewed in, of all places, Chicago

By Karen Springen
Updated: 1:30 p.m. ET Feb. 18, 2005

Feb. 18 - “The Producers,” “Movin’ Out,” “Mamma Mia!”: their titles alone evoke chorus girls, the Great White Way and 42nd Street. But Sears Tower? Not only are all three monster Broadway hits, but like so many new shows opening on Broadway, they previewed in Chicago's downtown Loop.

Even with big stars like Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria and a dynamite script by Eric Idle, the producers of the surefire smash "Monty Python's Spamalot" wanted to fine-tune their musical before it hit Broadway. So the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the cast and crew headed to Chicago—where audience laughs (and silences) helped them decide what needed tweaking and even deleting. As a result, when the show started its Broadway previews on Valentine’s Day, New York theatergoers were spared its weak moments, including an unfunny witch-burning scene. Instead, they got Chicago-tested winners—including the zingers, “We won’t succeed on Broadway if we don’t have any Jews” and “There’s a very small percentile who enjoys a dancing gentile.”

Those lines are funny because they're untrue. "The Midwest is really a good barometer for the country," explains producer Mary Lu Roffe. Last month alone, Chicago theatergoers could choose (if they could get tickets) between two pre-Broadway shows—"Spamalot" and "All Shook Up." Those productions have since migrated east to New York, but beginning Feb. 24, Windy City theatergoers can see previews for Christina Applegate's Broadway-bound "Sweet Charity." And this fall they can snap up tickets for Andrew Lloyd Weber's London hit, "The Woman in White," at its pre-Broadway U.S. debut.

It turns out Chicago—with its glut of recently renovated Broadway-size theaters and its big, sophisticated audiences—is a nice place to tinker. "The key for the out-of-town tryout is to let the producers know what really works for the show and what they might want to fix," says Steve Traxler, president of Jam Theatricals, a commercial producer of Broadway shows. "You have pressure to make sure it's perfect before it opens in New York." After all, with so much money on the line, producers want to perfect their shows before opening them on Broadway. That's particularly true for musicals, which can be three to five times more expensive than plays. (Plays typically cost $1.5 million to $2.25 million, compared to at least $11 million for shows like “Spamalot” and “All Shook Up.”) Unlike, say, San Francisco, Chicago boasts a large theater district in a lovely area of town. When the producers of "Spamalot" wanted the city's Shubert Theatre, which “All Shook Up” originally hoped for, the producers of the latter were able to move to the opulent Cadillac Palace Theatre instead.

And the audiences are coming. In 2003, 1.2 million people bought tickets to plays in Chicago. (The Goodman Theatre alone boasts 23,000 subscribers.) Mayor Richard M. Daley decided to showcase and revitalize the city's theater district and helped finance renovations of the main theaters. A group called Broadway in Chicago, which formed five years ago, also helps lure producers. A joint venture of Clear Channel Entertainment and the Nederlander Organization, it operates the 2,200-seat Oriental Theatre, the 2,400-seat Cadillac Palace Theater and the 2,000-seat Shubert Theatre (to be renamed the La Salle Bank Theatre when its facelift is complete this fall). In its five-year history, Broadway in Chicago has brought more than 100 productions to downtown Chicago and generated tickets sales of more than $175 million. The record is likely to continue, with big hits like “Wicked,” which will make its first U.S. tour stop in Chicago this spring.

Broadway-minded producers especially have found in Chicago a place to play with their musicals—and still charge New York prices. "You see where you've engaged an audience, you see where you've lost an audience, and you make changes," says Jonathan Pollard, the lead producer for the $11 million musical "All Shook Up," which weaves two dozen Elvis Presley songs into a plot unrelated to the King (though several characters do wear blue suede shoes). The show garnered generally favorable reviews in Chicago (the Sun-Times theater critic called it "surprisingly enjoyable"); Chicago audiences loved the more rock 'n' roll sequences, which will be beefed up for Broadway. For the New York show, which starts previews this Sunday, producers decided to move the final scene to a white-wood church and to use surround-sound speakers.

This out-of-town tradition dates back to the first half of the 20th century, when producers traveled to New Haven, Conn., to test and tweak their shows—including Tennessee Williams’s 1947 “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Marlon Brando. But in Chicago, producers can perfect their shows without the prying eyes of New York critics. "The whole point is to try to make it ready for Broadway. If they have an educated audience that is like a New York theater audience, that's going to help them in their task," says Michael Pauken, general manager of the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Ill., which held the 1998 pre-Broadway tryout of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." That doesn’t mean the audiences actually have to hail from the Big Apple: last month a survey conducted by the League of American Theaters and Producers found that during the 2003-04 season, six out of 10 Broadway audience members were from outside New York City and its suburbs.

In cities like Chicago, producers are less likely to be victims of a devastating review. "To some degree, in New York, The New York Times critic is your measure of success or failure," says Lou Raizin, president of Broadway in Chicago. "That's not necessarily the case in Chicago." And in Chicago, theatergoers—many of them season-ticket subscribers—will take a risk on an unreviewed show. Among producers who like out-of-town engagements in large, commercial settings, Chicago often beats out big cities like Boston, Seattle, Atlanta and even Los Angeles. Pollard says he considered all four but ultimately went with the Windy City—mostly because it was relatively close to New York and offered a diverse audience and a strong musical heritage of gospel, jazz and R&B. Actors like it too. "I don't think it's a smart thing to do to open cold on Broadway because you just don't have enough time to make the changes that ultimately everyone ends up wanting to make on a show," says Leah Hocking, who has worked both in New York and Chicago and can currently be seen as the blonde bombshell Miss Sandra in "All Shook Up." Chicago felt "quieter" and "safer" but had "savvy" audiences, she says. "You get a pretty good idea of what your New York audiences are going to appreciate."

Of course, Chicago theater directors want their city to be known as more than just a way station on the road to Broadway. "We don't exist to do out-of-town tryouts," says Roche Schulfer, executive director of Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. His theater’s production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” was not intended to be a pre-Broadway engagement—though it ended up in New York anyway because it was so good. With more than 150 theaters, the Chicago area is "the home of an extraordinarily large and diverse indigenous theater scene," says Schulfer. "Broadway is a showcase for a limited range of work. It's becoming more about vanity productions and spectacle musicals and celebrity events. The American theater is a lot more than that." So before we give our regards to Broadway, how about a nod to Chicago?

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posted February 22, 2005 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Broadway: Spanish Inquisition

You've got Grail! The hilarious musical 'Monty Python's Spamalot' is set to open. Eric Idle and Mike Nichols talk rabbit

By Devin Gordon

Feb. 28 issue - Broadway critics have not yet weighed in on "Monty Python's Spamalot," a new musical based on the classic 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," but by the time they do, a great many audiences will have delivered their own verdict. After a five-week run in Chicago, the warm, hilarious, profoundly silly show is receiving rapturous applause in previews on Broadway. Yet the director, the legendary Mike Nichols, and the show's creator, Eric Idle, an original Python, are still tweaking it. Nichols, 73, and Idle, 61, sat down with NEWSWEEK to explain why. Idle arrived first. He was ready to talk.

NEWSWEEK: Surely you could've found someone more distinguished to direct this.
IDLE: It's funny, we had to give a little speech before the first show on Monday, so I was just rude. When they asked me who I initially thought of to direct, I said I went straight for the top—but Susan Stroman wasn't available. Seriously, Mike is so good for this. He keeps it from going over the top, so it doesn't get too muggy. Otherwise, it's just a revue. And he's always cutting.

You've cut whole scenes since Chicago?
IDLE: We had the witch-burning scene from "The Grail" in the show, and it worked OK. But it was sort of a detour. And if you can cut something, you should. We also had a dancing-cow number. That song was Mike's baby, and he killed it.

Based on the show last night, you haven't quite mastered the physics of cow tossing.
IDLE: Yeah, it's terribly hard. We had a big cow in Chicago and it was almost impossible to throw. [Nichols arrives] I was sure you'd forgotten about this interview.
NICHOLS: I was sure you'd forgotten.

I'm surprised to hear that you're still fiddling with the show. Are you dissatisfied with the standing ovations you've been getting?
IDLE: Yes. We want them to be flying ovations. [Nichols laughs] We want actual liftoff. It's not good enough for them to be standing and screaming.
NICHOLS: It's not. It's vulgar.
IDLE: The world of comedy is endless dissatisfaction.
NICHOLS: It is the nature of doing a show. There's always stuff to fix. And what's frustrating is that right as you're building it, it's disintegrating.

How do you mean?
NICHOLS: Little things build up over time. Little encrustations grow over the actors. On this show, we have this thing we do called "killing babies." Some nights you have to give up the laugh. Don't fall in love with the little face you make or the little squeak you do. I noticed long ago that there are two kinds of actors. There's the kind that get a little bit encrusted as time goes on. And there's the kind that get a little truer, about 4 percent truer every night—that's what we have on this show.

Launching this show in America, did you worry about losing any of the English sensibility?
IDLE: No, Americans have loved Python for many years. We used to believe it would never fly in America. That was our snobbery. "Oh, they'll never get this. We're too smart." [Laughs] It wasn't true at all.

For many of us, Python is a second language. Your actors must know that a lot of the audience could do their parts from memory—or "off book," as you say in the theater. NICHOLS: After a week of rehearsals, I said to Hank [Azaria, who plays four roles, including Lancelot], "Jesus, you know the whole French taunter part already!" He said, "Mike, I've been off book since I was 12."

I was surprised by the euphoria from the audience every time the cast launches into a famous sketch.
IDLE: I think it's akin to doing a Beatles song. There's something very pleasant about the familiar. What's interesting is that we accept that emotion with songs, but the first time I toured, we got that with Python sketches. I think that's kind of new.
NICHOLS: It's new and it's old. It's the pleasure of a Shakespeare play.
IDLE: They are parallels with comedy. I memorized all of "Beyond the Fringe." I knew four whole monologues.
NICHOLS: Me, too. Exactly. "To my friend who very suddenly, violently—"
IDLE AND NICHOLS: "—vomited!"

I have no idea what you guys are talking about.
IDLE: [Laughs] See, that's exactly it. It was a comedy milestone, and we learned it. We did it on the playground. We can quote that, and people your age can do Python.

As a result, you're drawing a different audience than your standard Broadway crowd.
NICHOLS: Absolutely. When do you see young men lining up for the theater? And I already have three different friends whose 10-year-olds are obsessed with this show.
IDLE: One thing all the kids love is the [fake] horse riding.

Is it true that that joke—the clattering coconuts standing in for horses—came about because you didn't have money for horses?
IDLE: It was initially a radio joke. That's how they did it on radio. Then you see a guy come over the hill with the coconuts. It was just a pure visual gag. But when we were making it we thought, "Hang on, everybody can do that! We don't have to have f---ing horses! We can't afford it anyway." That reminds me, Mike: last night, when the head came off? Was that deliberate? [During one scene, the famed killer rabbit attacks a knight and swiftly decapitates him.] Because the head immediately popped off. Normally he holds it for a bit and then lets the head go. But last night, when his head flew right off, it was thrilling! Can we make sure that happens again? It got a huge roar.
NICHOLS: Absolutely. Of course.

Eric, what made you want to do "Spamalot"?
IDLE: I've always wanted to write a musical. And the time is right for it. We've gotten past "Phantom," the heavy musicals, the dramatic musicals, the visual musicals, and now it's time for comedy.

The producers of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" [see related story] must be nervous about getting steamrolled by you guys. It happened to "The Full Monty," which came along at the same time as "The Producers."
NICHOLS: It could happen, but it could happen the other way too. We could be run over. There's no telling. You know, if it had been "Hairspray" and not "The Full Monty," then "The Producers" couldn't have run over it. There would have been two big hits simultaneously, and why not? The thing that you cannot fake is the thing that happens with the audience.

"The Producers" had notorious trouble with ticket sales once Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick left. Nothing against your marvelous cast, but your show doesn't depend on one cast member.
IDLE: No. We are really lucky that way. It's wonderfully reassuring because it means you're dealing with archetypes, and so your actors can be replaced.

Tonally, "Spamalot" is a departure from the film, which is raw and almost brutal. The show is quite warm. It wants to be liked.
NICHOLS: One of the things I like about this show is that it's still, to some extent, about cruelty. The things in the movie are not gone. They're buried a little deeper—because you have to be in a good mood to do a number. But the jokes are still based on people's heartlessness to one another.
IDLE: And that insane optimism. "I'm not dead yet!"
NICHOLS: I love how that's become a theme of the show.
IDLE: It's probably because of my nature, as opposed to the nature of the Pythons. I think if all the Pythons had been involved it would have been much more gruesome, don't you, Mike? I mean, if you let [Terry] Gilliam loose, the next thing you know there's blood everywhere.
NICHOLS: One of the things I love about the show is that it knows it has very little plot. And it enlists the audience's help in putting together a rudimentary plot. That's part of why we go to the theater: because of how much the audience is part of what's created.

Have the original Pythons seen the show?
IDLE: No. [John] Cleese saw a very early rehearsal, but that's it. They're all coming opening night. That will be interesting.

Is their approval important to you?
IDLE: Hmm. [Pauses] I don't know how to answer that. Their approval just to do it in the first place was vital. And a great act of faith. Not only did they say, "Yes, do it," they said, "We're going to stay out of it because it's your thing." So it'll be intriguing to see how they respond. They won't say, "Oh, that's great, well done." They'll say, "I would have done this," "Perhaps you should do this." [Laughs] And I'll go, "Well, you're too late. Do your own f---ing musical."

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posted March 17, 2005 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
By Roger Friedman

Monty Python Goes to Broadway

The Monty Python musical "SPAMalot" is not, as the Playbill says, "the story, in music and song, of Finland's transformation from a predominantly rural agricultural base to one of the most sophisticated industrial and entrepreneurial economies in the world."

It is also not from an idea by "Sid, Coco and Edith Piaf." It is brilliantly written by Eric Idle and it does include the jolly hit "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from "The Life of Brian."

It is mainly Mike Nichols' hilarious staging of the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," complete with hollow coconuts used for the sound effect of horse hooves, chopped-off soldiers' limbs ("arms for the poor") and very serious men dressed up as women.

When I was 14 in 1971, I was obsessed with all things Monty Python. Last night's show did not disappoint in the least.

It's short, but sometimes quality is more important than quantity. It does not have much of a story; it's the King Arthur tale, but that gets lost along the way. But this is one time that story may not matter so much, because you're laughing all the time and listening hard to get the carefully constructed jokes.

"SPAMalot" is a parody, which is important to remember. You also have to remember that Monty Python skits are basically a series of non-sequiturs that eventually add up to something quite mad.

The show sends up everything in a radius of 500 feet, including "The Producers," which is across the street, and "La Cage Aux Folles," in the other direction.

A zillion other things come into play, including "West Side Story" and maybe "Sweeney Todd." There are most of the bits from the "Holy Grail" movie, and lots of added little references to Michael Moore, Britney Spears and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

"Camelot" is remembered in a really spectacular musical number as a grotesque Las Vegas.

"What happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot," one of the characters declares.

That would include, of course, Laker Girls.

There are superb performances of comic mastery. Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and especially Hank Azaria are knockouts. They each get big numbers, but I guess Hyde Pierce's extremely irreverent showstopper "You Won't Succeed on Broadway," which is more about tweaking "The Producers" than it is about Monty Python, should have local audiences rolling in the aisles for eons to come.

Curry's big, weird ballad, "I'm All Alone," is sung with a big chorus behind him. Azaria gets a disco number that sends his very funny housekeeper character from "The Birdcage" to Barry Manilow's Copacabana.

There are also some real finds in the cast, including Sara Ramirez, who sends up Mariah Carey, Liza Minnelli and modern musicals in general.

She's spectacular, in particular with a recurring ballad that lampoons recurring ballads, called "The Song That Goes Like This." I hope Mariah will appreciate the joke.

Christopher Borle is sublime in multiple roles, especially as Prince Herbert. Christopher Sieber, Michael McGrath and Steve Rosen are onstage almost through the whole show and indispensable as King Arthur's amusing knights.

There were celebrities in the audience last night. We spotted Daryl Hannah and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. I'm sure there were others.

But the real celebrity here is Nichols. How could the same person stage this and direct "Closer" for the screen? Is he schizophrenic?

There aren't many laughs in the dead-serious "Closer," but "SPAMalot" is the happiest of foolishness.

I was thinking of "The Play What I Wrote," which Nichols produced last year, and "The Birdcage," the film he directed with Azaria a few years ago. Both of them were off-the-wall hysterical.

"SPAMalot" is in that vein. Somehow Nichols manages to retain the spirit and content of Monty Python but adds just enough of his magic dust so that esoteric British music-hall theater translates for matinee ladies from Queens. Maybe when he wins the Tony Award this year he can explain how he does it.

P.S.: If you go, make sure to get a copy of the Playbill, a collector's item and a hoot. It contains a whole faux show from Finland called "Dik Od Triaanenen Fol (Finns Ain't What They Used to Be)." The action takes place entirely in a sauna.

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posted March 21, 2005 08:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Pythons Reunite

The five surviving members of legendary comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus have reunited for the first time since 1989 at the Broadway premiere of musical Spamalot - based on their cult film Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The show - which cost a staggering $11 million to put together - was written by Python Eric Idle. Critics have applauded the show - which has a cast including Tim Curry, David Hyde-Pierce and Hank Azaria. And the other four pythons - John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin - also enjoyed the performance, joining Idle and the cast on stage at the end to sing "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life," and simultaneously burying a number of rifts that have reportedly kept them apart for the last 16 years. Cleese said, "I loved the parodies of the songs, the delight in seeing some of those songs skewered definitively - it was liberating. I'm a bit surprised this kind of thing can happen in George W. Bush's America - you know, people being very naughty, very funny and with a kind of gentle joy."

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posted May 10, 2005 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
'Spamalot' Leads Tony Nominations With 14 By MICHAEL KUCHWARA, AP Drama Writer

"Monty Python's Spamalot," an offbeat musical spoof inspired by those quirky British cutups and their film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," grabbed 14 Tony Award nominations Tuesday, including a nod for best musical.

Close behind — with 11 nominations each — were two other, very different musicals: "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," about a couple of scam artists working the French Riviera, and "The Light in The Piazza," a complex, lushly romantic tale of love at first sight.

All three will compete for the musical prize, along with "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," a small, sweet show about youngsters learning how to win — and lose.

"Doubt," Pulitzer Prize winner for drama, and the revival of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" each scored something of an acting coup. The entire, four-person casts of both plays received nominations.

"Quartet would be a good word for us," Bill Irwin, nominated for his portrayal of the embittered, henpecked husband in "Virginia Woolf," told The Associated Press Tuesday. "I think we are as much an ensemble as we are a traditional hierarchal cast."

Also picking up nominations for "Woolf" were Kathleen Turner, as Irwin's boozy wife, and David Harbour and Mireille Enos, the young couple who stumble into an evening of boisterous, revelatory drinking. Albee will receive a special lifetime achievement prize.

"Doubt," John Patrick Shanley's parable about the innocence — or guilt — of a likable parish priest, gathered nominations for Cherry Jones as a dour, suspicious nun, Brian F. O'Byrne as the accused priest and Heather Goldenhersh and Adriane Lenox, the production's two supporting players.

"It just feels like we have done it all our lives," a jubilant Jones said of her cast mates. "This is my first experience with a new play that's taken off like this. I've worked on a lot of new plays, but I've never worked on one that immediately became a juggernaut."

Competing against "Doubt" in the best-play category are "Democracy," Michael Frayn's spy story set in Germany; August Wilson's mystical "Gem of the Ocean"; and "The Pillowman," Martin McDonagh's ghoulish tale of murder and mayhem.

Jones and Turner face actresses who appeared in plays that have already closed: Laura Linney, the spurned woman in "Sight Unseen"; Mary-Louise Parker, a distraught housewife in "Reckless"; and Phylicia Rashad, an ancient, iconic figure in "Gem of the Ocean."

The competition for Irwin and O'Byrne will be Billy Crudup, a jailed writer in "The Pillowman"; Philip Bosco, a disbelieving juror in "Twelve Angry Men"; and James Earl Jones, the cantankerous father of "On Golden Pond."

The 14 nominations for "Spamalot" included nods for director Mike Nichols as well as for the show's King Arthur, Tim Curry, and its Lancelot, Hank Azaria. The two actors will go up against Gary Beach, the warmhearted drag star of "La Cage aux Folles," and those two con men from "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" — Norbert Leo Butz and John Lithgow.

Nominated for leading actress in a musical were Christina Applegate, "Sweet Charity"; Victoria Clark, "The Light in the Piazza"; Erin Dilly, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"; Sutton Foster, "Little Women"; and Sherie Rene Scott, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

For Applegate, the nomination was particularly sweet. She broke her right foot in March during the Chicago tryout of "Sweet Charity," and the Broadway production was canceled after its next stop, in Boston. But Applegate's determination resurrected it.

"So much onus has been based on the (tryout) journey and the foot, so to be acknowledged for the work we are doing is really quite a victory," Applegate said.

"Glengarry Glen Ross," David Mamet's look at sleazy real-estate salesmen, dominated the featured actor category — filling three of the five slots with Alan Alda, Liev Schreiber and Gordon Clapp.

Mamet's dark comedy will compete in the play-revival category against "Virginia Woolf," "On Golden Pond" and "Twelve Angry Men."

It was a year in which several big names were left out of the highly competitive acting categories. Among those snubbed by the Tony nominators were Denzel Washington, who plays Brutus in a revival of "Julius Caesar" and the leads in two Tenneesee Williams revivals: Natasha Richardson and John C. Reilly in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and Jessica Lange and Christian Slater in "The Glass Menagerie." The shows received mixed notices from critics, as did the stars.

Eleven new musicals opened on Broadway, but several were shut out of nominations altogether, including "All Shook Up," "Brooklyn The Musical" and three shows that have already folded, "Dracula," "Good Vibrations" and "The Frogs."

Four special theater events were nominated for Tonys: "Laugh Whore," Mario Cantone's bawdy one-man show; "700 Sundays," Billy Crystal's autobiographical evening; "Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show," Whoopi Goldberg's revival of her original 1984 one-woman show; and Australian Barry Humphries' drag extravaganza, "Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance!"

The Theatre de la Jeune Lune of Minneapolis will be given the 2005 Regional Theatre Tony Award for its artistic achievement.

The Tony Awards, with Hugh Jackman as host, will take place June 5 at Radio City Music Hall with a three-hour telecast by CBS. The nominations in 25 categories will be voted on by 758 members of the theatrical community.


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posted July 25, 2005 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Wynn Bringing 'Spamalot' to Las Vegas By ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer

One Broadway hit isn't enough for casino impresario Steve Wynn, who has inked a deal for a version of the Tony Award-winning musical "Monty Python's Spamalot."

The popular show will play at Wynn Las Vegas, joining "Le Reve," a watery, acrobatic production by Cirque du Soleil's former creative director, and the Tony-winning "Avenue Q" that opens Aug. 27.

"It's the most intense concentration of entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip," Wynn told The Associated Press. "I'm not sure that we're done yet."

Wynn said he'll build a 1,600-seat theater, one of three that was planned for the $2.7 billion megaresort. Wynn will pay for the venue and staging of the show at a cost of more than $50 million.

"We made a deal very like much like we always do," Wynn said. "We'll build a theater and you bring a show and we'll share in the profits."

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 slated to open in 2007.

The Las Vegas production will span 90 minutes, compared with the approximate two-hour version in New York City, which won three 2005 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

"Spamalot" will be performed 12 times a week, with ticket prices from $80 to $100, Wynn said. Wynn says he'll also add a retail component and restaurant to complement the show.

Unlike "Avenue Q," the "Spamalot" musical will tour nationally. But it will not tour in California, Nevada or Arizona, according to terms of the agreement.

Wynn's deal to land "Avenue Q" was met with criticism in the theater industry because there was no tour, depriving audiences around the country of seeing the popular show outside of New York and Las Vegas.

The original Monty Python comedy show — featuring Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin — ran on the BBC from 1969 to 1974, landing in America in 1975 with rebroadcasts on PBS.

"Spamalot" is based on the movie, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It tells the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their irreverent quest for the Holy Grail.

When people enter the theater, Wynn said, they'll be walking into a castle, much as they do in New York. Idle, along with the show's original designer, Tim Hatley, will create the "Spamalot Experience and Grail Theatre."

Wynn said the show will fill a major void in Las Vegas.

"We've had spectacle, great concerts," he said. "One of the things I've missed in Las Vegas is wit — something that is witty, really funny."

Myron Martin, an independent producer and president of the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center Foundation, said many people were interested in bringing the show to the Strip for good reason.

"I think it will be a big success," Martin said. "There is great buzz on this show. People leave the show loving it. And there are tons of Monty Python fans around the world."

"Spamalot "and "Avenue Q" are part of a slew of Broadway shows to migrate west to the booming Strip.

"Hairspray" is due to land at the Luxor later this year, and "The Phantom of the Opera," one of the most successful shows in the history of Broadway, is coming to The Venetian in 2006. "Mamma Mia!" — a musical built around songs from the Swedish pop group ABBA — began it all in February 2003 when it opened at Mandalay Bay.

Wynn said the trend says a couple of things.

"It means people on the West Coast don't have to travel so far," he said. "And we've clarified the issue that this city is not about gambling. It's about entertainment."


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posted February 27, 2006 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
It's still running...

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posted October 24, 2006 05:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Python Star Jones Undergoes Cancer Surgery

Monty Python star Terry Jones has undergone surgery for colon cancer. The 64 year old was "in good spirits and the operation went very well" according to his agent Jodi Shields. She says, "Terry's doctors are very cheered with an early diagnosis of possible colon cancer for which he has now had routine surgery in a London private hospital. He is in high spirits and very pleased that the doctors say they have caught it early." The comedian was told he had cancer only days before the opening of the Spamalot musical in London last Tuesday, which is based on the classic Monty Python And The Holy Grail film. Despite the diagnosis, Jones was able to attend the premiere with the original cast, which included Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam.

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posted January 14, 2008 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Aiken's Tantrum Over Magazine's Personal Questions

Singer Clay Aiken cut short an interview with a Newsweek magazine reporter after refusing to answer a series of personal questions. Journalist Ramin Setoodeh was quizzing the American Idol star on his upcoming Broadway debut in Monty Python's Spamalot when the reporter chose to ask Aiken about a series of recent controversies. These included a fight Aiken allegedly had with a woman on a plane and ongoing speculation about his sexuality, which culminated in a spat between TV hosts Rosie O'Donnell and Kelly Ripa. O'Donnell rushed to defend Aiken after Ripa appeared to attack the singer's rumored homosexuality when he was a co-host on her morning show. But Aiken took offence to Setoodeh's questions, repeating, "I'm not going to talk about it," or, "I'm not going to discuss it." He then turned on the reporter when he asked Aiken what he wanted to talk about, hissing, "We're done. I thought Newsweek would be more reputable. I'm surprised. This is Newsweek. It's not the National Enquirer." He added, "I'd hate to have a job where I had to be rude to people." When Setoodeh attempted to save the interview by asking Aiken what he did for fun, the angry singer replied, "I watch the news. I read news magazines, but I'm reconsidering that now."

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posted January 14, 2008 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Clay Aiken: Who's this Monty Python person?
Story Highlights
Clay Aiken to join "Monty Python's Spamalot" this week

Aiken thought Monty Python was a person until recently

Former "Idol" runner-up also didn't think much of Python's humor

NEW YORK (AP) -- Clay Aiken, who joins the cast of "Monty Python's Spamalot" this week, says its humor was initially lost on him.

"The first time I saw it I thought it was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen in my entire life," the "American Idol" runner-up told Newsweek. "My tour drummer is the 'Spamalot' drummer, and (he) said you've got to see it again."

Aiken plays one of the leads, Sir Robin, in the Tony Award-winning musical in a stint from Friday through May 4. He told the magazine he was so sore from rehearsals he "couldn't even get off the toilet the other day."

"It hurts so bad. I don't know if it's I'm not coordinated or using muscles I never had to use before," he said.

The show is based on the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which came out in 1975, a little before the 29-year-old singer's time.

"I thought Monty Python was a person until three months ago," Aiken told Newsweek for editions on newsstands on Monday.

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posted October 18, 2008 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Spamalot To Close

Monty Python's Spamalot is to end its successful Broadway run in January.

The curtain will come down on the stage adaptation of comedy film Monty Python + The Holy Grail at the Shubert Theatre on 18 January, after 1,582 performances, according to

The cast has included Tim Curry, David Hyde-Pierce and Clay Aiken, who currently plays Sir Robin in the production.

The show opened at the Shubert in March 2005 and it went on to win multiple Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards later that year for Best Musical.

Estimates suggest the show, written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, will have grossed more than $175 million (GBP94.5 million) when its run ends. It will have been seen by more than two million people on Broadway.

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