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The Complete and Utter History

The show was fully sold out in Chicago even before it opened to ecstatic Previews in Chicago’s Shubert Theatre on 21 December 2004. The show officially opened on 9 January 2005.

Two musical numbers were dropped from Act One while the production was still in Chicago. During the scene in the “Witch Village”,

We have found a witch may we burn her?

In which Sir Bedevere questions the villagers’ assumptions that she really is a witch.

“She looks like one.

“They dressed me up like this.”

“Well yeah we did do that.”

“She turned me into a newt. I got better.” (see Holy Grail)

Once they had xproved she was a witch then a cheerful song “Burn Her!” was originally performed by Sir Bedevere to a small ukelele.

When I was just a toddler in my nappy
My muvver said dear life can be quite cruel
If you do not want to be unhappy
Never marry witches, that’s a golden rule.
There is only one way to survive them
They will always play you for a fool
If you find a witch then you must take the silly bitch
And string her up
And turn her into fuel
Burn her! Burn her!
Put her on the barbecue and turn her.
Scratch that itch before that bitch can spurn yer
Grill her that won’t thrill her but it certainly will learn her
If you Burn her! Burn her!
Burn her till she’s done all the way through
String her up and try her
And then fling her on the pyre
And then light the fire and toodle-oo

© Idle/Du Prez
Rutsongs/Ocean Music
This rather jolly song and dance number ended with the immolation of the witch, though at the end she turns the tables on them by flying away. Unfortunately since the original company of David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria, and Chris Seiber had been already carefully established as Robin, Lancelot and Galahad, off on their quests to join King Arthur’s Knights, their sudden appearance as other characters confused the simple story line, and turned the play precariously close to a sketch show It was consequently decided to cut the scene. Similarly, when the English knights arrived at the French Castle and were denied entry, night fell and the castle revolved revealing a French Christian Dior Cow with a long cigarette holder smoking under a lamp post admired by two French guards, also smoking.
I’m just a lonely cow who has a dream
That each and every one of us is part of nature’s scheme
That somehow every single cow
Can make a difference to just how
This world is now today – it’s true
So here’s my final moo!
Au revoir
Bye Bye
Bon Soir
That’s my goodbye to you
Ciao Ciao
Ta ta
And au revoir
It’s toodle-oo to you
Although I have no beef with you
I’m really in the stew
I’m one mad cow
I’m one sad cow
There’s nothing left to do
Bon soir
Au revoir
It is a far far better thing I do
To sacrifice my life for you
It’s time to say adieu
c) Idle/ Du Prez
© Idle/Du Prez
Rutsongs/Ocean Music

Unfortunately this very touching scene with the French cow being led away to be sacrificed, totally killed the laugh of the cow coming over the wall and landing on Patsy. Now we knew who the cow was, we were sorry for her! It was a simple violation of a basic comedy rule, and so, despite the beautiful song, and the beautiful mood, and the beautiful costume and the wonderful way Sara Ramirez sang it, it was cut by Mike Nichols and Eric Idle, to the regret of many. Before the two songs were cut Sara Ramirez had six songs in Act One, but no further appearances until scene five in Act Two, for “The Diva’s Lament”. But it also meant that she appeared as other characters, thereby weakening her part as the Lady of the Lake. Many thought it would cost her the Tony; but it didn’t.

The musical previewed on Broadway, at New York‘s Shubert Theatre, on Valentine’s Day February 14th 2005, and officially opened on St. Patrick’s Day March 17th 2005. All the surviving Pythons were in attendance: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and John Du Prez. It was greeted with rapture by a star studded audience, and there was a large medieval party afterwards inside a Spam Castle.

The production won the Tony Award for Best Musical 2005 and received 14 Tony Award nominations, more than any other show in the 2004–2005 season. It won three of them:
  • Best Musical
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Sara Ramirez)
  • Best Direction of a Musical (Mike Nichols)

The 11 other nominations were:
  • Best Book of a Musical (Eric Idle)
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre (John Du Prez and Eric Idle (Music); Eric Idle (Lyrics))
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Hank Azaria)
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Tim Curry)
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Michael McGrath)
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Christopher Sieber)
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Tim Hatley)
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical (Tim Hatley)
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Hugh Vanstone)
  • Best Choreography (Casey Nicholaw)
  • Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman)

John Du Prez and Eric Idle received a Grammy (2005) for the Best Broadway recording of the Cast Album.

During its almost five year run the show was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million, recouping its initial production costs in under six months. It played its final performance on 11 January 2009 after 35 previews and 1,574 performances.

The original Broadway cast included Tim Curry as King Arthur, Michael McGrath as Patsy, David Hyde Pierce as Sir Robin, Hank Azaria as Sir Lancelot and other roles (e.g., the French Taunter, Knight of Ni, and Tim the Enchanter), Christopher Sieber as Sir Galahad and other roles (e.g., the Black Knight and Prince Herbert’s Father), and Sara Ramírez as the Lady of the Lake. It also included Christian Borle as Prince Herbert and other roles (e.g., the Historian and Not Dead Fred), Steve Rosen as Sir Bedevere and other roles (e.g., Concorde and Dennis’s Mother) and John Cleese as the (recorded) Voice of God.

Awards and Honors
A sign at the Shubert Theatre advertising the show’s Best Musical award.

The Awards led to a minor change to the song “The Diva’s Lament.” Initially, the line “I’ve no Grammy, no reward/I’ve no Tony Award” became “My Tony Award/won’t keep me out of Betty Ford’s.” When Kennedy took over for Ramirez, it became “My predecessor won awards/and now she’s in Betty Ford’s” but was later changed to, “All our Tony Awards/won’t keep me out of Betty Ford’s.” In the touring production, Glenn sings “All our goddamn awards/won’t keep me out of Betty Ford’s.” For a change, Hannah Waddingham in the London production sings “I’m as depressed as I can be/ I’ve got constant PMT“.

First US Tour
First National tour (2006–2009)

Spamalot’s North American tour took it to Washington, D.C.’s National Theatre in May 2006.

A North American tour directed by Mike Nichols and with choreography by Mike Nichols commenced in Boston in spring 2006, and the cast included Michael Siberry as King Arthur, Jeff Dumas as Patsy/Mayor/Guard, David Turner as Robin/Guard/Brother Maynard, Rick Holmes as Lancelot/French Taunter/Knight of Ni/Tim The Enchanter, Bradley Dean as Galahad/Black Knight/Herbert’s Father, Tom Deckman as The Historian/Not Dead Fred/French Guard/Minstrel/Prince Herbert, Christopher Gurr as Sir Bedevere/Dennis’s Mother/Concorde, and Pia Glenn as the Lady of the Lake. Deckman moved to the Broadway production in November 2006 and was replaced by Christopher Sutton.

The touring production garnered Boston’s Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Visiting Production and won three 2007 Touring Broadway Awards, including Best New Musical.
This same tour returned for the third time to Chicago on 20 January 2009 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, this time with Richard Chamberlain as King Arthur. The Tour continued through the summer 2009, with dates at the Golden Gate Theatre San Francisco, the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, (where the hilarious Rick Holmes reprised his Broadway role of Lancelot) The Canon Theatre in Toronto, the San Diego Civic Theatre in San Diego, the Tucson Music Hall in Tucson, and played its final performances at the Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa where it finally closed on 18 October 2009.

Second US Tour (2010) -
A Second North American tour launched on 24 September 2010 from Waterbury, CT and ended 26 June 2011 in Dallas, TX. Leading the tour was a non-equity cast, however it used the same sets and costumes as the First National tour. The cast included Steve McCoy as King Arthur, Caroline Bowman as the Lady of the Lake, Adam Grabau as Lancelot, Jacob L. Smith as Galahad, Matt Ban as Sir Bedevere/Dennis’s Mother, Glenn Giron as Patsy, Martin Glyer as Robin, Thomas DeMarcus as The Historian, and John Garry as Not Dead Fred/Prince Herbert. Other cast members include Stephen Cerf, Jennifer Cordiner, Carl Draper, William Harrell, Melissa Denise Lopez, Shaun Patrick Moe, Linda Neel, Jeffrey Shankle, Keleen Snowgren, Tara Sweeney, Michael Warrell, Jessica Wockenfuss, Matthew Alexander, and Jenny Holahan.

This second North American tour (non-equity) re-opened on October 8th in Providence, Rhode Island and will play through April 2012. They might do one last leg of the tour from Fall 2012 to Spring 2013, but that won’t be confirmed until mid 2012.

West End, London
Spamalot showing at the Palace Theatre in October 2008.

A London production, once again directed by Mike Nichols and choreography by Casey Nicholaw, opened at the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End, commencing 30 September 2006 with tickets on sale booking to November 2008.

The London première on 17 October 2006 was attended by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, along with Sir Cliff Richard and Cilla Black.

Tim Curry reprised his Broadway role as King Arthur until December, with Simon Russell Beale taking over from January. Sieber also reprised his role as Sir Galahad before leaving in early 2007, replaced by Graham McDuff. Hannah Waddingham was cast as the Lady of the Lake, Tom Goodman-Hill as Sir Lancelot, Robert Hands as Sir Robin, David Birell as Patsy, Tony Timberlake as Sir Bedevere and Darren Southworth as Prince Herbert. Notable cast replacements have included Peter Davison and Bill Ward in 2007 and, briefly, Marin Mazzie, in early 2008. Sanjeev Bhaskar took over from Alan Dale as the last King Arthur (23 June 2008 onwards). The London production closed on 3 January 2009.

UK Tour -
A completely new touring version of Spamalot, with new sets and costumes and choreography, directed by Chris Luscombe was mounted by the Ambassadors Theater Group, starting at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 29th May 2010, touring most of the UK and Scotland to a rapturous reception. This highly successful tour ran until June 2011 at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. The production also travelled to Trieste’s Politeama Rossetti, marking on 24th May 2011 the official opening of the show in Italy. Eric Idle showed up in Trieste. The show was played in English with Italian sur titles, “causing much merriment as occasionally the laughs came half way through the next line.” This same production, directed once again by Christopher Luscombe is due to begin touring again at Christmas 2011, commencing with a five week season as an Alternative Panto in Brighton. Once again Ambassadors are the Producers.

On this tour Marcus Brigstocke made his musical theatre debut as King Arthur followed in the role by Phil Jupitus. Marcus will reprise his role on the new tour in Brighton and Liverpool. Todd Carty plays Patsy, assistant to King Arthur. Jodie Prenger, Hayley Tamaddon, and Amy Nuttall share the role of The Lady of the Lake. The tour also features Simon Lipkin as Sir Galahad, Graham McDuff as Sir Lancelot, David Lingham as Prince Herbert, Samuel Holmes as Sir Robin, and Robin Armstrong as Sir Bedevere. Eric Idle replaces John Cleese as God (on video).

The UK tour also featured for the first time a re-working of the song “You won’t succeed on Broadway” which has been re-named “You won’t succeed in Showbiz”. The theme of the song has been changed from poking fun at the need for Jewish input in Broadway productions and instead mocks the crossover of celebrities in musicals and reality television competitions such as the X Factor. It notably pokes fun at reality TV celebrities including Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Susan Boyle (who is shot by Sir Robin when she begins to sing).

Las Vegas 2007
A production of the musical, directed by Mike Nichols with choreography by Casey Nicholaw, previewed in Las Vegas, Nevada on 8 March 2007 and opened on 31 March 2007 at the Wynn Las Vegas in the newly renamed Grail Theater, with an extended balcony to allow for more seating, and a redesigned interior. As with other Las Vegas transfers of Broadway musicals, Spamalot was condensed to ninety minutes without an intermission. Among the cuts were the song “All For One”, most of the song “Run Away”, the Knights of Ni receiving their shrubbery, and the “Make sure he doesn’t leave” scene with Prince Herbert’s guards.

Actor John O’Hurley starred as King Arthur and the cast included Nikki Crawford as Lady of the Lake, Edward Staudenmayer as Galahad, J Anthony Crane as Lancelot, Justin Brill as Patsy, and Harry Bouvy as Robin, with Reva Rice as the standby Lady of the Lake.

Eric Idle and John Du Prez, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam attended the opening. Terry Jones visited the production during the run.

The Las Vegas production was awarded the Number 1 show of 2007 by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Spamalot’s final performance in Las Vegas was on 18 July 2008.

Eric Idle commented “We are some of the very few people to leave Las Vegas with money in our pockets.”

Australia 2007
A new Australian production started in Melbourne in November 2007 at Her Majesty’s Theatre, with the official premiere on 1 December. In attendance Eric Idle and John Du Prez, who then began a highly successful Australian and New Zealand Tour of their comedy Oratorio Not The Messiah. The Spamalot cast featured Bille Brown as King Arthur and Lucinda Shaw as the Lady of the Lake, Ben Lewis as Sir Galahad, Stephen Hall as Sir Lancelot, Derek Metzger as Patsy, Jason Langley as Sir Robin and Mark Conaghan as Prince Herbert. The Melbourne production closed on 5 April 2008.

The Australian Non-Professional Premiere season of Spamalot was presented by Phoenix Ensemble at the Pavilion Theatre in Beenleigh and the Logan Entertainment Centre from 20 March to 25 April 2009 for 16 performances. This production won several awards at the Gold Coast Theatre Awards including Best Musical Direction (Casey Chadwick and Ben Murray), Best Set Design (Tracey and Luke Hutley, Doug McClean) and Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Tash McKoy). It was also nominated for Best Costumes (Glynis Aubrey) and Best Choreography (Scott Hollingsworth).

The Gold Coast Premiere season of Spamalot opened at the Spotlight Theatre, Benowa on 24 July 2009 for a four week run.

The Sydney Premiere of Spamalot was held on 9 October 2009 by The Regals Musical Society. Sydney also had two nights of Not The Messiah, at the Sydney Opera House, with Eric Idle and John Du Prez in December 2007.

In Adelaide, a new production of Spamalot opened on 12 March 2010 at the Shedley Theatre.

The Brisbane City Premiere of Spamalot opened 23 April 2010 at the Schonell Theatre. It was also the inaugural production of Queensland’s latest exciting new theatre company ‘Blue Fish Theatrical Productions.’ Spamalot featured an all-star cast of well-known Brisbane performers. Gary Rose as King Arthur, Bradley McCaw as Patsy, Tony Campbell as Sir Robin, Chris Kellett as Sir Lancelot, Lionel Theunissen as Sir Galahad, Steve Norris as Sir Bedevere (also played by Jason Lawson in a special guest appearance), Tye Shepherd as Finland Mayor/Not Dead Fred/Prince Herbet/Robin’s Minstrel and Brother Maynard and Ruth Bridgstock as the Lady of the Lake.

The Canberra premier was in May 2010 at the ANU Arts Centre by SUPA Productions. Max Gambale as King Arthur, Louisa Bloomfield and the Lady of the Lake, Will Huang as Patsy, Joseph McGrail-Bateup as Sir Robin, Patrick J Gallagher as Mrs Galahad, Dave Smith as Galahad and Michael Jordan as Lancelot. Director - Ron Dowd.

The Empire Theatre in Toowoomba, Australia’s largest regional theatre opened Spamalot in October 2010.

Perth will finally see Spamalot in November 2010, presented by Playlovers in Hackett Hall, Floreat. They did however see Not The Messiah in December 2007, and were treated to an encore of Fuck Christmas! by Eric Idle and John Du Prez.

New Zealand
The New Zealand premiere was staged at the Globe Theatre Palmerston North for a four week season in November/December 2009. Hillcrest High School in Hamilton, did the second performance of Spamalot in March 2010 whilst the South Island premiere was performed by Bayfield High School at The Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin on the 19–22 May 2010.

The first translated production, in Spanish, opened at Teatre Victoria, Barcelona on 9 September 2008 and closed on 10 May 2009. Directed by Catalan Comedy Group Tricicle and choreographed by Francesc Abós, the cast included Jordi Bosch as King Arthur, Marta Ribera as the Lady of the Lake, Sergi Albert as Sir Galahad (later replaced by Edu Soto), Fernando Gil as Sir Lancelot, Julián Fontalvo as Patsy, Xavi Duch as Sir Robin, Josep M. Gimeno as Sir Bedevere and Jesús García as Prince Herbert, with Sara Pérez as the standby Lady of the Lake.

Eric Idle visited the production in November 2008, see A Spamalot Diary for details.

The Original Barcelona Cast Recording was released on December 2008.

On 10 September 2009 the production was transferred to Teatro Lope de Vega, Madrid with some changes in the cast: Dulcinea Juárez as the Lady of the Lake, Ignasi Vidal as Sir Galahad, Víctor Ullate Roche as Sir Robin and Lorena Calero as the standby Lady of the Lake.

Once again Eric Idle visited the Production, see A Spamalot Diary.

The show finally closed on 28 February 2010, after more than 450 performances.

A German production premiered in January 2009 at the Musical Dome in Cologne. The last performance was on 13 September 2009.

The Hungarian production started on September 2009 at the Madách Theatre in Budapest and is still currently playing in Repertory. John Du Prez visited the production which he said was very impressive, different, and very enjoyable, and included the finest version of I’m All Alone he had ever seen.

The Swedish production premiered in Malmö on 24 September 2010, produced by Julius Mälmstrom and directed by Anders Albien. Eric Idle attended the first preview and was made “very happy indeed” by the “finest overseas production he had ever seen” which he said was “amongst the top three productions he had seen in any language.” He particularly singled out Johan Glans as almost the finest Sir Robin he had ever seen, but lavished praise on the rest of a very fine cast, and was thrilled by the direction by Anders Albien. “I love it when a local company, instead of slavishly copying the Broadway Production makes it their own. It makes it fresher and somehow more accessible. The Broadway clone copies have been the least successful in my view.”

In London in 2008,the Swedish actress Nina Söderquist took the role of Lady of the Lake after winning Be A West End Star Competition on Swedish TV3. It was thought that she would play the role in Sweden, but when she became pregnant, she left the show and was replaced by Anki Albertsson. Though scheduled to play only until January, the Malmo production was a smash sell-out success and ran until May 2011.

The Swedish cast included Johan Wester as King Arthur, Kim Sulocki as Patsy and other roles (e.g., Guard, and The Mayor), Robert Rydberg as Sir Galahad and other roles (e.g. the Black Knight, and Concorde), Anders Jansson as Sir Bedevere and other roles (e.g. Prince Herbert’s Father, Sir Galahad’s Mother, and the Historian), Adde Malmberg as Sir Lancelot and other roles (e.g., the French Taunter, Knight of Ni, and Tim the Enchanter), Johan Glans as Sir Robin and other roles (e.g., Guard, and Brother Maynard), Anki Albertsson as Lady of the Lake, Mattias Linderoth as Prince Herbert and other roles (e.g., French Guard, Not Dead Yet Ben, and Musician) and John Cleese as the (recorded) Voice of God.

The production transferred to Stockholm in September 2011, produced by Julius Mälmstrom and Vicky von der Lancken and once again directed by Albers Albien, retaining most of the original cast, including the sublime Johan Gans as Robin, but with a new King Arthur, Henrik Dorsin, and Nina Söderquist reprising her West End role as The Lady of the Lake.

Eric Idle attended the Premiere at the Oscars Teatern on the 15th September 2011, which was received with standing ovations and glowing notices.

The Belgian production was directed by Belgian actor and director Stany Crets and opened in early 2010.

Czech Republic
The premiere of Czech production took place 6 March 2010 in the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen. The play achieved a great success. It is a completely translated version directed by Roman Meluzín.

The first French production started on 5 February 2010 at the Comedia Theatre in Paris and was directed by French actor Pierre-François Martin-Laval who also played King Arthur. Unfortunately he decided to do his own adaption of the Holy Grail, which he had no right to do, and he was forced to make severe changes to turn it back into Spamalot. Despite this the Production was received very well and ran until June 2010. A brand new production under completely different producers and director is scheduled to open in Paris in September 2012.

Since 25 September 2010 “Spamalot” is played at the music theatre in Gdynia, Poland, directed by Maciej Korwin. The première took place on 2 October 2010. It still runs in repertory.

18–21 November 2010, Mecca Productions of Brandon, Manitoba staged their production of Spamalot. This marks the first time a non-professional company has performed the show in Canada. The production stars James Comrie as King Arthur, Lisa Vasconcelos as The Lady of the Lake, Chris Isaak as Sir Dennis Galahad, Bob Brereton as Patsy, Dylan Woodcock as Sir Robin, Brody Harms as Sir Lancelot, and John Szabo as Sir Bedevere.

In May 2011, the British Tour played at the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin.

In May 2011, the original UK touring production played at Politeama Rossetti in Trieste. Eric Idle attended the opening night on 24 May. The production played in English, with Italian sub titles, which caused much merriment, as occasionally the laughs came half a line after they had spoken the line in English. Opera doesn’t have these problems… Nevertheless the English company under Phil Jupitus had a grand time, in a tour which took them from Belfast one week, to Trieste the next and then back to Wimbledon the week after. There are plans for an Italian language production in 2012.

In April 2011 a Dutch touring version opened, starring comedians Paul Groot and Owen Schumacher. The entire cast also appeared in character on Dutch TV in a Python/Spamalot tribute: “Help, mijn man is ridder!” (Help! My husband is a knight!). Eric Idle caught up with it in Amsterdam at the Royal Theatre Carré in mid May 2011, where he professed himself very happy with the Company.

Mexico City
The production opened very successfully in Mexico City on July 20, 2011 at the Teatro Aldama. It will mark its 100th performance on October 27th 2011.