Classical thespian Simon Russell Beale last night (23 January 2007, previews from 8 January) had his West End coronation as the new King Arthur in Spamalot. The Monty Python musical - which last week received seven Laurence Olivier Award nominations, including a Best Actor in a Musical nod for role originator Tim Curry (See News, 18 Jan 2007) – is currently booking to 22 July 2007 at the Palace Theatre.

It’s the second time that Russell Beale has succeeded Curry in the role; he made his Broadway musical debut in the ongoing, triple Tony Award-winning New York production of Spamalot in December 2005.

Russell-Beale was seen last year at his most frequent stage home, the National Theatre, in The Life of Galileo and The Alchemist. As well as his turn in Spamalot, his other New York credits include the National’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers and the 2002 double bill of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya, Sam Mendes’ final productions as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse which transferred to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in 2003. His previous musical credits include Candide at the National.


For 1st Night Photos, our photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the curtain call at the Palace Theatre.

“Lovingly ripped off” from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in their quest to find the religious relic – and features a chorus line of dancing divas (with serfs), flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and a legless knight.

Spamalot has a book and lyrics by original Python Eric Idle, who has also co-written the music with John Du Prez. The London production reunites the Broadway creative team including set and costume designer Tim Hatley, lighting designer Hugh Vanstone, choreographer Casey Nicholaw and director Mike Nichols.

Spamalot has seven Laurence Olivier nominations in total, more than any other production this year. In addition to Tim Curry’s nod, it’s the running for: Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Waddingham), Best Supporting Role in a Musical (Goodman-Hill), Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Costume Design. Spamalot has also received four nominations – Best Actor (Curry), Actress (Waddingham) and Supporting Actor (Goodman-Hill) and Best New Musical - in’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (click here to vote now!).

Voting continues in the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards until 31 January, with winners announced on 9 February (See News, 1 Dec 2006). This year’s Laurence Olivier Awards ceremony is held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 18 February (See News, 18 Jan 2007).

- by Terri Paddock