Article 150

"Monty Python's Spamalot" makes a return visit to Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre

"Monty Python's Spamalot" is back in Chicago for a two week run at the Auditorium Theatre, coconuts clopping. The Tony-winning musical had its pre-Broadway debut here in 2005 and surely is no stranger to our lands; this tour is its third visit. (Are you suggesting Broadway shows migrate?)

Richard Chamberlain stars this time as King Arthur. (Well, I didn't vote for you.) James Beaman is the brave Sir Robin.

Along with the Python-heads in the house who can't stop mouthing along with the lines (I don't want to go on the cart!), "Spamalot" has always had success appealing to a wide audience. The musical is adapted from the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the Python's cult-smash spoof of the King Arthur legend and his knights of Camelot, which Chamberlain says he himself hasn't actually seen. It's not a pre-requisite.

But wait. Whoa there!

The star of the show has never actually seen "Holy Grail"?

Chamberlain, 74, is best known for his decades-long film career ("The Towering Inferno" in 1974; "Shogun" in 1980) and as television's "Dr. Kildare." He has Broadway experience in revivals of "My Fair Lady" and "The Sound of Music," and says he became a fan of the original "Monty Python's Flying Circus" television series when living in England and working in theater in the 1960s.

"It's such delicate material," he says of Python. "It has to be performed extremely well to work."

He says his inspiration comes not from Graham Chapman but Peter Sellers. Take the original "Pink Panther" movies. With all respect to Steve Martin, who filled the shoes of Inspector Clouseau for the 2006 "Panther" remake and the upcoming "Pink Panther 2", Chamberlain says Martin is no Sellers. The problem is he knows he's funny.

"The genius of Peter Sellers," he says, "was that he never, ever let on he was funny."

Our king is in good hands.

Richard Chamberlain Online