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‘Spamalot’ closes on Broadway

2005 Tony winner to end run Jan. 18

King Arthur and his knights will abandon their quest for the Holy Grail when “Monty Python’s Spamalot” closes Jan. 18 on Broadway after a successful run of nearly four years.

The 2005 Tony winner for musical will shutter after 1,582 performances and 35 previews, with a final gross estimated in excess of $175 million. (Cume currently is nudging $160 million.)

Adapted by Eric Idle from the 1975 cult comedy pic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” with music by John Du Prez and Idle, the show opened at the Shubert Theater in March 2005, in a starry production directed by Mike Nichols and featuring Tim Curry, Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce and Sara Ramirez.

Following a tryout engagement in Chicago, “Spamalot” arrived in New York with a hefty $18 million advance and the highest must-see factor since Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” rolled into town in 2001. It landed 14 Tony nominations, winning for musical, featured actress (Ramirez) and Nichols’ direction.

The production recouped its capitalization in less than six months and holds the record for weekly gross sales in a Shubert theater, tallying $1.4 million for the week ending Jan. 1, 2006. A North American tour is still playing after 30 months, while other productions have played Las Vegas and Melbourne, and the London transfer will wrap its two-year run at the end of this year.

While “Spamalot” received a box office boost this year when “American Idol” alum Clay Aiken joined the cast as Sir Robin for the first of two stints in the show, the musical has been flagging in recent months. In many weeks, it has played to an average capacity as low as 54%. The choice of a January closing date allows the show to boost business through the upcoming holiday period and then call it quits before the traditional box office frost of January-February sets in.

Like “The Producers” and “Hairspray,” which also has announced a Jan. 18 closing, the exit of “Spamalot” indicates that even monster-hit comedies do not have the staying power on Broadway of more tourist-friendly dramatic or family fare, such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Chicago” or “The Lion King.”

Lead producers on the Rialto run are Boyett Ostar Prods. and the Shubert Org.