Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Theater in the Year Ahead ; This Year, Musicals Make a Comeback, Plus Plays and Actors You Already Know

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Theater in the Year Ahead ; This Year, Musicals Make a Comeback, Plus Plays and Actors You Already Know

Article excerpt

To find out what's new on Broadway this year, just follow the singing. More musicals are on the way in a season that so far has featured few of them. But with the Tony Awards just around the corner in June, producers are revving up to get musical versions of movies - and star-studded revivals of classic plays - to theaters in time to be contenders.

Two of the most anticipated new productions are Monty Python's Spamalot, based on the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and another film-turned-musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. "Spamalot" will arrive with high expectations from a test-run in Chicago, thanks in part to its adaptation and new songs by Python veteran Eric Idle - and to its star power, including Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, and Hank Azaria.

"In the [same] way that people anticipated 'The Producers' and 'Hairspray,' they're coming to anticipate this," says Robert Simonson, editor of Playbill On-Line. "They know that this is being put on strictly for their joy, that there'll be lots of laughs and funny songs and good performances, and a great portion of it will be very tongue-in-cheek."

The film, which has a cult following, featured King Arthur and his knights searching for the grail under often silly circumstances - they ride pretend horses, for example, with the sound of hooves provided by servants banging coconuts together.

Publicity for the musical version is expected to be extensive. "Unless something unforeseen happens, this will probably be the show to beat, once awards time comes around," notes Matthew Murray, the lead New York critic for the website Talkin' Broadway (talkinbroadway.com).

"Scoundrels" opens shortly before "Spamalot" in March, and also has momentum behind it. Composer David Yazbek's second musical (his first was a popular adaptation of the movie "The Full Monty") stars John Lithgow as one of the titular scoundrels who con women on the French Riviera. The production also features a crew of theater notables. "Jack O'Brien and Jerry Mitchell are directing and choreographing, and were also responsible for [Tony-winner] 'Hairspray,' so I think many people at least expect them to repeat their success with that show," says Mr. …

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