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

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).

Spamalot has a book and lyrics by original Python Eric Idle, who has also co-written the music with John Du Prez. The musical opened in March 2005 at Broadway’s Shubert Theater, where it’s still running. Reuniting the Broadway creative team, the London production is directed by Mike Nichols and designed by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, choreography by Casey Nicholaw and musical supervision by Todd Ellison.

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For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand at the theatre for the arrivals and curtain call of Spamalot and at the post-show party at the Freemasons Hall to hear what people had to say on opening night. Our TV interviewees include the show’s creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez, stars Tim Curry and Tom Goodman-Hill and original Python Michael Palin.

Amongst the first night celebrity guests were: Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, Hank Azaria (who starred 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 (Monty Python’s Flying Circus), Michael Frayn, Michael Blakemore, Steven Berkoff, Eddie Redmayne, Connie Fisher, Christopher Biggins, Simon Pegg, Derek Griffiths, Michael Ball and surviving Pythons Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin (John Cleese, who provides the voice of God for the musical, is filming in Australia).

- by Terri Paddock

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