PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 3-9: A Merry Band

ICYMI   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 3-9: A Merry Band Mike Nichols no doubt thought he was providing weary, jaded New York theatregoers with a welcome bit of English-style whimsy when he imported the loopy London hit by British comedy team Hamish McColl and Sean Foley, The Play What I Wrote. But even with a parade of celebrity cameos, the appeal of that show was largely lost in translation.

Nichols stands a far better chance with his latest Limey enterprise, Monty Python's Spamalot, which announced its stars and theatre this week. For one, the early '70s comedy troupe Monty Python is far better known and far better loved on these shores than McColl and Foley (however talented they may be). And the film on which the musical is based, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," has been committed to memory by many an idle male mind.

Adding further appeal to the work, which is being "lovingly ripped-off" by original Pythoner Eric Idle, is the cast, which will feature Tim Curry as King Arthur, David Hyde Pierce as Sir Robin and Hank Azaria as Sir Lancelot. All three actors have shown a consistent ability to stir up laughs, and, perhaps more importantly, a willingness to look foolish and mock themselves. Which all lends an air of fun to the upcoming venture. The show is still looking for three more "major funny people and two major funny women." Sara Ramirez is expected to be one of the latter.

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The new Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? found its Honey, and, as expected, it was the little-known Mireille Enos. Given her almost complete anonymity, one must assume she is an excellent actor who turned in a smashing audition. One who probably didn't have to audition is Cherry Jones, the legit vet who will star in John Patrick Shanley's new play, Doubt, at Manhattan Theatre Club's Off -Broadway Stage I beginning in November.

*** Finding work quickly after the announced July 18 closing of Assassins are one of its stars Mario Cantone, and its director Joe Mantello, who will team on Cantone's solo show, Laugh Whore. It which will open at Broadway's Cort Theatre Oct. 17.

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Some Yankee stars found a couple of inviting employments in England this week. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio will check in to the Donmar Warehouse’s new production of Grand Hotel, previewing from Nov. 19 for a healthy run through Feb. 12. And Christian Slater will ape Jack Nicholson once again, taking on the older actor’s legendary 1975 movie role as R. P. McMurphy in a stage version of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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Finally, Dodger Stages, a new multi-entertainment theatre complex located at Worldwide Plaza, 340 West 50th Street, will open in fall 2004. The Dodgers kept mum on the project for a good while, but now that it's coming to life—all five stages of it—they actually have to fill up the joint. So the Dodgers made a couple official public announcements this week. The first show to pass through the doors will be one well known to New Yorkers, puppeteer Basil Twist's underwater fantasy Symphonie Fantastique. The show was the biggest hit downtown's scrappy HERE complex ever saw, when it debuted there in 1998. Back then, the show had a 500-gallon water tank in which to work. But this is the big time! So, they've graduated to a 1,000-gallon water tank for its new run.

The second will be Bare: A Pop Opera, the rock musical set in the insular world of a Catholic boarding school, which had a test run Off Broadway in spring. It will arrive in a somewhat rewritten form Sept. 22.

That leaves three stages to book, and at a time when established Off-Broadway houses like the Variety Arts and the Promenade are having trouble finding quality clients. One entry will likely be occupied by The IT Girl, a musical comedy confection set in the era of silent films and drawing on the 1927 movie, "It," and its star Clara Bow .

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