After critics attended on Monday to pass their judgment (See Review Round-up, 16 Oct 2006), myriad celebrities converged on the West End’s Palace Theatre last night (17 October 2006, previews from 30 September) for the gala UK premiere of Spamalot, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical adapted from the quintessentially British film comedy classic, 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail (See News, 20 Jan 2006).

For opening night, the show’s creator Eric Idle was joined by other surviving Pythons Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin (John Cleese, who provides the voice of God for the musical, is filming in Australia). At the curtain call, Idle took to the stage with the cast and then invited up the Pythons and members of the musical’s creative team – choreographer Casey Nicholaw, designer Tim Hatley, lighting designer Hugh Vanstone and musical supervisor Todd Ellison, as well as John Du Prez, with whom he wrote the music.

Following a standing ovation, Idle told the star-studded capacity audience, “Thank you for helping us bring Spamalot home where it belongs, here in London.” He said he wouldn’t be here “without the “support and encouragement of a wonderful woman… my chemist. Thank you Doreen from Boots.” He went on to “thank all the Americans who made this possible”. Idle noted that while “Americans are not very popular here at the moment, or anywhere really”, they are “wonderful people” who give “great presents…. Okay, they can’t get an asshole out of the White House but we do love them.”

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF THE SPAMALOT 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.

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.

Returning to the London stage for the first time in over 20 years, Tim Curry, reprises his Broadway role as King Arthur (until January 2007, when Simon Russell Beale, also reprising his Broadway role, takes over from Curry a second time) in a cast that also features Hannah Waddingham (as the Lady of the Lake), Tim Goodman-Hill (Sir Lancelot), David Birrell (Patsy), Robert Hands (Sir Robin), Tony Timberlake (Sir Bedevere) and American Christopher Sieber (Sir Galahad).

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer was on hand at the Palace Theatre for arrivals and the curtain call and at the Freemasons Hall for the post-show party. Other first night celebrity guests – from the worlds of sport and music as well as showbusiness - included: Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, Hank Azaria (who starred in Spamalot on Broadway), Stephen Fry, Richard E Grant, Eddie Izzard, Gary Lineker, Anita Dobson, Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Jeremy Irons, Richard Griffiths, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Pamela Stephenson, Barrie Cryer, Carol Cleveland (from Monty Python’s Flying Circus), Michael Frayn, Michael Blakemore, Steven Berkoff, Eddie Redmayne, Connie Fisher, Christopher Biggins, Simon Pegg, Derek Griffiths and Michael Ball.

-by Terri Paddock