Article 155

Final three days for Richard Chamberlain's "Spamalot" fun

The current Broadway in Chicago run of "Monty Python's Spamalot" marks my third quest for the Holy Grail, you know that famed crusade for the chalice used by Christ at the Last supper?

And some things just get better age.

Richard Chamberlain is a perfect example.

At age 74, he is perfect and still in his prime for the lead role of the spoofy King Arthur in this stage musical parody.

Even more amazing, when Chamberlain was asked to join the national tour late last year, he told me he felt a little silly having to admit he had never seen the long-running Broadway show, which first opened in January 2005 as a test-run in Chicago.

Well, he certainly made the right decision agreeing to accept the lead role of the king caricature created by Tim Curry in the original run of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2005, directed by Mike Nichols and also starring David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria.

Besides the fact that Chamberlain said he only had about three weeks to learn all the songs and dance steps for the show (and there a BUNCH to get down), I wasn't sure how well he'd blend in with the show.

Attending last week's press opening, I was not only NOT disappointed, I was impressed.

Not only is Chamberlain great, although at times a bit out of step with some of his suit-of-armor counterparts for a couple of the group numbers, this show itself also holds up quite nicely.

It closes at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago on Sunday, so now's the time to begin your own quest for the holy grail of hot stage tickets.

Brimming with sight gags, outrageous costumes and amazing sets, this tour features a talented cast who do a superb job bringing to life each musical number, from "Find Your Grail" and "He's Not Dead Yet" to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

For four decades, many fans know Chamberlain from his successful movie and television career and his trademark roles as young Dr. Kildare in the '60s, and "Shogun" warrior Blackthorne and Father Ralph of "The Thorn Birds" in the '80s which have seemed to define his public persona as well, primarily in straight, noncomedy roles.

But Chamberlain is a fit for being funny.

Using his dry, wry wit, with some mugging to the audience and classic doubletakes thrown in, he more than fills the bill.

His last theater work in Chicago was in November 2004 for the starring stage role in the Christmas musical "Scrooge." Before that, it was a stage stop in the Windy City in 1994 while appearing in the national tour of "My Fair Lady."

Richard Chamberlain Online