Following his current sell-out season in The Philanthropist at the Donmar Warehouse, Olivier Award winner and CBE Simon Russell Beale will head to Broadway to star as King Arthur in Spamalot, the new musical based on the Monty Python comedy sketches and penned by original Python Eric Idle. From 20 December 2005, Russell Beale will take over from fellow Briton Tim Curry in the triple Tony Award winning hit.

Best known for his dramatic roles for the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Donmar Warehouse, Russell Beale has previously appeared in New York in 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. He made his Broadway debut last year in the National’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers.

Russell Beale’s other stage credits include Julius Caesar at the Barbican and Macbeth at the Almeida earlier this year, and at the National, Humble Boy (which also transferred to the West End), Money, Summerfolk, Hamlet, Volpone and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. His previous musical credits include Candide at the National.

Spamalot tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and their quest for the Holy Grail. The musical is based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a book and lyrics by original Python member Eric Idle, and music by John Du Prez. Spamalot is directed by Mike Nichols and features a chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, a killer rabbit and one legless knight. Others in the current New York cast include Hank Azaria and David Hyde-Pierce.

Among the show’s many accolades are three Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical for Nichols, as well as the Drama Desk and Critics’ Circle awards for Outstanding Musical (See News, 6 Jun 2005).

- by Caroline Ansdell