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Spamalot Axes Tour, WWRY Opens in Manchester

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Producers have pulled the plug on the planned UK tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot. In June, the West End production of Tony Award-winning Broadway musical posted closing notices at the Palace Theatre for 3 January 2009, after which, it was simultaneously announced, it would embark on an extensive UK regional tour next April (See News, 2 Jun 2008).

However, a spokesperson at David Ian Productions, the company behind the tour, today confirmed to Whatsonstage.com that the tour has been cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances” and “will not be taking place as scheduled in 2009”. No further plans have been announced.

“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.

The musical has a book and lyrics by original Python Eric Idle, who has also co-written the music with John Du Prez. The London production, which opened at the Palace on 16 October 2006 (previews from 30 September), reunites the Broadway creative team including director Mike Nichols and set and costume designer Tim Hatley. The final London cast is led by Sanjeev Bhaskar who plays King Arthur, following the footsteps of Tim Curry, Simon Russell Beale, Peter Davison and Alan Dale.

Two other West End musicals – Queen’s We Will Rock You and Buddy Holly tribute Buddy - are forging ahead with new tours which will run concurrently with their ongoing London productions at the Dominion and Duchess Theatres, respectively.

We Will Rock You launches its first-ever regional tour on 20 March 2009 at the Manchester Palace where it will run for three months before continuing its 43-week regional schedule to Sunderland, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Commenting on the tour, Queen guitarist and show co-producer Brian May said: “We are excited to be able, finally, to send, to send a brand-new, top-class We Will Rock You company out on tour around the UK. We are completely hands-on and will be visiting! The Mother Ship, in the Dominion Theatre, London, will be rockin’ on all the while, keeping the home fires burning, until further notice!”

Set in the future, We Will Rock You tells the story of a world in which globalisation has meant the death of real music in favour of computer-produced cyber stars, a status quo which the rebel Bohemians, harking back to the Golden Age of rock (embodied by Queen), are trying to overthrow so that they can write and perform their own music. An unintentional hero ends up saving the kids of Planet Mall from the tyrannical Killer Queen and discovers the place of living rock.

We Will Rock You has a book by Ben Elton and features 32 of Queen’s greatest hits including \"Bohemian Rhapsody\", \"Crazy Little Thing Called Love\", \"Under Pressure\", \"Radio Gaga\" and, of course, \"We Will Rock You\". It’s directed by Elton, choreographed by Arlene Phillips and designed by Mark Fisher and Willie Williams.

We Will Rock You premiered on 14 May 2002 (previews from 26 April) at the Dominion Theatre, where it’s been seen by nearly four million people and is currently booking through to 3 October 2009.

Finally, this past weekend, Buddy - which returned to the West End last August after a five-year absence – launched a new 12-month regional tour, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death in a plane crash on 3 February 1959, aged 22.

Now at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until 20 September 2008, the new tour continues to Preston, Rhyl, York, Sunderland, Hull, Bradford, Malvern, Dunstable, Castlebar, Lowestoft, Belfast, Salford, Bristol, Liverpool, Northampton, Wolverhampton, Swindon, Cardiff and Inverness, where the schedule concludes on 18 April 2009.

The musical is co-written by Alan Janes (who also produces) and Rob Bettinson (who also directs). In London, Buddy continues at the Duchess Theatre, its third West End home, where it’s currently booking through to 28 March 2009. It premiered at the Victoria Palace on 12 October 12 1989, before transferring on 6 October 1995 to the Strand Theatre (now the Novello). It finished there on 3 March 2002.

- by Terri Paddock


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