Kennedy Center replaces ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ with ‘Spamalot’


The Kennedy Center has withdrawn plans for a highly anticipated concert revival in May of the musical “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and will replace it with a concert production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” the arts center announced on Tuesday.

The unusual substitution came about after an issue arose over the performance rights for “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” a 1993 musical version of a 1985 film that won William Hurt an Oscar and was based on Manuel Puig’s 1976 novel. Jeffrey Finn, the Kennedy Center’s vice president and executive producer of theater, said that the rights holders of the musical have Broadway plans for it. Those ambitions, he said, complicated casting of the arts center’s production, the final entry of this season’s Broadway Center Stage series.

“It was our choice to step away,” Finn said in a phone interview. “I just wanted to make sure any show we produce would be of the highest quality.” The arts center had yet to announce any actors or creative team for the previously scheduled spring run of the musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb in the Eisenhower Theater. “If circumstances prohibit me from producing in the manner I need to, to deliver for the Kennedy Center audience, then I’m not willing to compromise,” Finn added.

In its place will be “Spamalot,” the spoof-y 2005 show by Eric Idle and John Du Prez that won three Tony Awards, including best musical. Based on the 1975 cult hit film comedy, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the concert version will run in the Eisenhower from May 12-21. It will be directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, who performed the same duties for the series’s 2019 mounting of “The Who’s Tommy.”

Several cast members were also announced, including James Monroe Iglehart, a Tony winner as the Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin,” who’ll play King Arthur. Iglehart is a Kennedy Center veteran, having emceed a concert in February 2022 celebrating 50 years of musical theater at the arts center. He went on to play Nathan Detroit in the production that opened the 2022-2023 Broadway Center Stage season, “Guys and Dolls.”

Alex Brightman will play Sir Lancelot, Rob McClure has been cast as The Historian and Leslie Kritzer will be The Lady of the Lake. All three have other major Broadway credits, but the most consequential experience they share was as original cast members of the musical adaptation of “Beetlejuice.”

“I love the show. I think it’s so much fun,” Rhodes said of his latest Washington assignment. He begins rehearsals this week for another concert revival, this one for the Encores! series at New York’s City Center: “Dear World,” a 1969 musical with a score by Jerry Herman, and featuring Donna Murphy. “Spamalot,” of course, is far better known, and Rhodes got to stage it once before, in Seattle. That production used Casey Nicholaw’s original choreography; this time, he’ll devise his own.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday for Kennedy Center members, and for the general public on Thursday.

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