February 15, 2006

Russell Beale reigns with hilarity in ‘Spamalot’

By Frank Scheck

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The land of Spamalot has a
new king, and he is just as funny as the old one. Revisiting
"Monty Python's Spamalot" nearly a year after its Broadway
debut, one is struck by how its antic humor holds up even upon
a second viewing. The replacement of Tim Curry by Olivier
Award-winning thespian Simon Russell Beale has done nothing to
diminish the show's nonstop barrage of laughs.

Indeed, in some ways Beale is an improvement upon his
predecessor, who at times seemed a little too reliant on his
durably weird persona. His replacement, normally seen on these
shores in such sophisticated theatrical fare as "Hamlet" and
Tom Stoppard's "Jumpers," clearly is trying a little harder.
His King Arthur, rather than seeming a bemused witness to the
shenanigans going on around him, gleefully participates in the
merriment, albeit with a deadpan demeanor. (After Russell
Beale's Broadway stint ends, he's scheduled to headline the
upcoming London production.)

The other newcomer, Lauren Kennedy as the Lady in the Lake,
is equally felicitous. Although she's not quite as brazenly and
amusingly sexual as Sara Ramirez, she's a more technically
accomplished singer and actress who handles the relatively
minor demands of her role with aplomb.

Stars Hank Azaria and David Hyde Pierce have, amazingly,
only gotten better in their multiple roles. Rather than
succumbing to the torpor that can afflict so many performers in
long-running shows, they seem even looser and more energetic
than they did originally. This is particularly true of Azaria,
who is consistently hilarious bringing to life such iconic
minor characters as the French Taunter ("I fart in your general
direction!") and the Knight of Ni.

Mike Nichols' production remains in tiptop shape, conveying
utter comic anarchy with the precision that only a great
director can provide.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter