Article 147

Richard Chamberlain takes in "Spamalot" show

Patrons who showed up at the Civic Center Theater on Tuesday night to catch the opening performance of "Monty Python's Spamalot" were treated to a bonus star sighting: actor Richard Chamberlain, who was there to take in the show, too.

Marc Burnett, director of marketing for the Civic Center, said Chamberlain will join the touring company in the role of King Arthur later this month in Chicago and was in Peoria to observe the show. His New York publicist, Anita Dloniak, confirmed the appearance and said Chamberlain has been rehearsing with the cast.

The actor - who landed the title role on the television series "Dr. Kildare" in 1961 - will join the cast starting Jan. 20 at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago, according to The site reported his appearance as "a limited engagement."

Burnett said he didn't know ahead of time that Chamberlain was attending, and he does not know if the actor will attend any more performances of the show, which runs through Sunday at the theater.

Mary Jo Grebner of Washington attended "Spamalot" on Tuesday and wondered about the familiar-looking man in the audience - the one who kept agreeing to sign programs for the patrons that approached him.

"I kept looking at him, and I told my husband, 'I've seen that guy before, I can't remember where,'" she said.

A fellow audience member informed her it was Chamberlain, the 74-year-old 1960s heartthrob who has won three Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for four Emmy Awards.

"He was very nice looking, so gracious," said Grebner, who didn't ask him to sign her program. Who needs an autograph when she got to enjoy his company for the evening? Well, from a couple of rows back, anyway.

"He was right there," Grebner said. "I could have reached out and touched him."

Chamberlain's other TV credits include "Shogun," "Wallenberg," "The Thorn Birds," "Will and Grace" and "Desperate Housewives." He has appeared in films such as "The Three Musketeers," "Towering Inferno" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry." He also played Jason Bourne in the original 1988 version of "The Bourne Identity." On Broadway, Chamberlain has performed in "My Fair Lady" and "The Sound of Music."

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