Production spokespersons confirmed the casting news which Kennedy announced on her official website. Ramirez — who is in negotiations for a television job — will leave the role later this year, the actress' agent confirmed.
The actress was last seen on Broadway in Side Show and has also appeared in Sunset Boulevard and Les Miserables. Kennedy originated the role of Kathleen in The Last Five Years and Patra in The Rhythm Club. She has also been as Nellie seen in the Royal National Theatre production of South Pacific and as Nefertari in The Ten Commandments: The Spectacle Musical. She is on the web at www.laurenkennedy.com.
Original Tony Award-nominated co-star Hank Azaria — who took time off for his TV gig on Showtime's "Huff" — will return to the production Dec. 2. Azaria and original star David Hyde Pierce have extended their contracts with the show through April.
They will be joined by London stage star Simon Russell Beale (The Philanthropist, Jumpers) who will be crowned the new King Arthur Dec. 20, replacing Tony Award nominated Tim Curry in the role.
* Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on their quest from God (voiced by a familiar actor) for the Holy Grail — with a short stop in the dazzling Spam-filled land of Camelot. The show boasts "a chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and one legless knight" who sing and dance. (Python devotees will be happy to know The Knights Who Say "Ni!" also make an appearance.)
The musical earned 14 nominations for the 2005 Tony Awards, winning prizes for Best Musical and Featured Actress Sara Ramirez. Also an audience favorite, the show continues to play to capacity crowds and break house records at the Shubert.
The self-proclaimed "lovingly ripped-off" show features a book by Eric Idle, based on the screenplay he co-wrote with Monty Python creators Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
Featuring a completely new score with music and lyrics by Eric Idle and composer John Du Prez ("A Fish Called Wanda"), Spamalot also includes songs ("Brave Sir Robin" and "Knights of the Round Table") from the original film. The Decca Broadway original cast recording of the show has already sold more than 100,000 copies since the album's release in May.
Mike Nichols ("The Graduate," "Angels in America") directs the musical inspired by the 1975 feature film comedy "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The musical made its world premiere at Chicago's Shubert Theatre then landed at Broadway's Shubert for a St. Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) start and a St. Patrick's Day (March 17) opening.
Plans are in the works for a national tour scheduled to launch March 7, 2006 from Boston's Colonial Theatre before returning to Chicago (where it made its world premiere) and traveling to Washington, D.C., among other stops. A Las Vegas production will reside at the Wynn Las Vegas casino resort in a new custom-built Spamalot Experience and Grail Theatre in 2007.
For more information, visit the show website at www.montypythonsspamalot.com.