And now for something completely different
Monty Python’s Spamalot
Music Circus opens its 60th season with a leap toward that most famous comedy flying circus as it unleashes Python-esque humor, the Knights who say “Ni,” a Trojan rabbit, minor flesh wounds and far-flinging French insults. From the first clippity-clop sounds of galloping coconuts, fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail will be quite eager to embrace Spamalot, a musical homage to the 1975 classic comedy flick.
California Musical Theatre grabbed the grail when it secured Spamalot, which debuted on Broadway in 2005 and stole the Tony for Best Musical. Sacramento is the first regional theater to stage it, and the first to produce it as theater-in-the-round.
The result is a fun, irreverent, over-the-top, painfully punny and shamelessly silly spoof of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Or perhaps you could call it a parody of a parody, made by a master: Python’s own Eric Idle adapted the beloved Holy Grail movie, and with the help of collaborator John Du Prez, turned it into a song-and-dance extravaganza that not only pokes fun at the legend and the movie, but also at Broadway musicals as a whole.
Never fear, all the favorites make an appearance: King Arthur, Patsy the Servant, Sir Lancelot, Sir Robin, Sir Dennis Galahad, Sir Bedevere, Not Dead Fred, the Black Knight, the Knights of Ni, and the obnoxious French taunters. There’s also an expanded the role for the Lady of the Lake as love interest and musical stage diva; a bit of put-on in a very Vegas scene; and added hilarious, clever songs, including “I Am Not Dead Yet,” “The Song That Goes Like This,” “Knights of the Round Table,” “Run Away!” and two renditions of the already Python-famous “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
Even more enjoyable for fans of the original is the spot-on movie tribute, from the familiar costumes to legendary lines such as “It’s just a flesh wound”; “I’m not dead”; “We want a shrubbery”; “That rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide”; and, of course, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”
Not only does the cast provide top-notch performances (most notably Gary Beach as King Arthur, Lesli Margherita as Lady of the Lake, Mika Duncan as Lancelot, John Scherer as Robin and Eric Idle as the voice of the Almighty), its also evident they’re having an absolute blast. Who wouldn’t, with a chance to mock the masters of mockery with song-and-dance numbers, broad British humor, colorful costumes and language, and silliness all around?
Though the set is rather simple, the theater-in-the-round works well, spreading the fun all about, and the props are a kick (though the cow catapult was a bit of a disappointment for us Cow Towners).
Spamalot is a great way to start off Music Circus’ 60th anniversary season, a welcome relief from tried-and-true old chestnuts that sometimes dominate the Music Circus lineup (including some this summer, such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Oklahoma!).
So grab a hold of your coconuts and clop on down to the show—wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?