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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 14 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 07
SPAMALOT: The Holy Grail of Musicals
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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SPAMALOT: The Holy Grail of Musicals

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

SPAMALOT
THE 5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through March 2


You would be hard pressed to find anyone over the age of 17 who hasn't heard of (or seen) any classic performances by Monty Python. The English improv troupe is not only responsible for their sketch comedy on television, but also for their films. Monty Python and the Holy Grail has been a cult classic for over two decades. The success of this film is one of the contributing factors to the highly enjoyable musical Spamalot; a musical that boasts, 'lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'

The story parodies the legend of King Arthur of Britain. After becoming King, Arthur and his loyal servant, Patsy, are on the move to solicit other knights in joining the King's round table. With the help of the Lady of the Lake, he enlists Sir Galahad, Sir Lancelot (the brave), Sir Robin (the chicken) and Sir Bedevere (the flatulent). When God appears and commands that the King and Knights go in search of the quest for the Holy Grail, the legendary chalice used at the Last Supper, the band of misfits sets out on their quest. Along the way the group encounter: The Knights that say 'Ni,' an evil enchanter that stands guard over a horrible beast, the relentless Black Knight, catapulted cows, and an assorted group of taunting French guards. But despite the obstacles, they are determined to find their grail, only to realize the metaphor for each of their personal quests.

Each of the main principal characters is excellent in their roles making this production a highly enjoyable affair! Many of them double or even triple up their roles, playing various characters at different points, and ALL of them stem from local talent. Patsy (played brilliantly by Greg McCormick Allen, celebrating a landmark performance at the 5th Avenue) is perfect as counterpart to King Arthur (Allen Fitzpatrick). Patsy steals almost every scene he is in with his comic expressions, and Danny Kaye style movements. Just clapping the coconut shells together to mimic the sounds of horses, Mr. McCormick Allen is just plain damn funny to watch!

Sir Robin (played by Matt Owen) is the knight that would rather focus on singing and dancing than fighting. Frightened by every encounter that causes his bowels to evacuate, Mr. Owen plays the role as a cartoon with a giant fixed (and contagious) smile on his face. Sir Galahad (played by Louis Hobson) transforms - with help from the Lady of the Lake - from a mud-covered sod to a (purposeful) stereotyped pretty boy fop with tossing of his blond locks. He gets to sing the wonderful parody of Phantom of the Opera in the song, 'The Song That Goes Like This.'

The Lady of the Lake (played by Laura Griffith) is the person responsible for helping Arthur and his knights. Ms. Griffith's voice is strong and she belts out the 'lounge number' 'Knights of the Round Table' with an entertaining Vegas parody. Her solo in the second act, 'The Diva's Lament,' is pure comedic genius as the character bemoans that she's not appeared on stage for a while. The lyrics are brilliant, the music melodic and the voice carrying the song is powerful and in full control.

No matter how you look at it, Spamalot is pure fun! The familiarity of the movie helps to set an energetic mood in the audience and doesn't detract in any way from the musical on stage. And if you happen to be in the minority and the original film is not already known (and memorized and quoted....) to you, then you are in for a treat.

Spamalot first opened on Broadway on Valentine's Day 2005 with book, lyrics and music (with help from John Du Prez) by original Monty Python member Eric Idle. (Mr. Idle was in the Seattle audience on the night I saw the musical). It ran for just under four years and over 1500 performances. Nominated for 14 Tony Awards it won 3 including Best Musical 2005. Original cast included: Hank Azaria (in his Broadway debut as Sir Lancelot), Tim Curry (King Arthur), David Hyde Pierce (Sir Robin), Christopher Sieber (Tony Award winning for his role of Sir Galahad), and Sara Ramirez (Tony Award winning for her role of The Lady of the Lake).

Spamalot is based on the film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Released in 1975 the film was written by (and stars) most of the original improv troupe including: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. The film was an instant success and would become the top grossing film in the United States in 1975 and considered the second best comedy of all time (rated by ABC Best in Film).

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