SALT LAKE CITY — I have been a fan of Monty Python for most of my life. I have seen every movie and almost every episode of their old TV show. I’ve memorized most of their songs and can spout random lines at will. And of all of the shows and movies, Monty Python and the Holy and Grail is my absolute favorite. And when Eric Idle decided to adapt it to the stage, he achieved a perfect storm: the ideal blending of all the best parts of the movie and added bits and routines to achieve one of the greatest nights you will have in a theater.
From the opening curtain announcement to the final bow, this show is a non-stop romp. All the important characters are there: King Arthur, Patsy, Sirs Bedevere, Lancelot, Galahad, and Robin. There is also the historian, the French taunter, Tim the Enchanter, the Knights who say “Ni,” the black Knight, and the killer rabbit. And just for fun, they throw in the Lady of the Lake. I won’t take up space explaining the plot in full, because it doesn’t make much sense, but then that’s the point. Suffice it to say, King Arthur sets out with his knights on a quest from God to find the Holy Grail. Along the way they encounter trials and tests, and eventually it all comes out right. This is not an exact copy of the movie, and the deviations from the original plot are what provide much of the fun.
Eric Idle and John Du Prez have done a marvelous job at adapting this to the stage. In addition, they have added wonderful songs and inventive bits of comedy that kept the audience in constant laughter throughout the whole show. Punch lines, visual gags, comedic bits, and puns galore bombard you in rapid-fire succession. Add to this the amazing sets and costumes, the inventive choreography, and smashing songs and this is one fantastic show.
The cast for this show is wonderful. And everyone from ensemble to the leads is put to good use on stage. Each person has a well-defined character, and no one is ever put on stage to “fill space.” Among the standouts from the cast was Caroline Bowman as the Lady of the Lake. Every one of her songs was stunning, she has an amazing voice, and is lovely to boot. Her second act song, “Diva’s Lament is one of the highlights of the show. Martin Glyer as Sir Robin has perhaps the second best song in the show, “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway.” This tour-de-force has as its central conceit that you can’t succeed on Broadway unless you have some Jews. It then proceeds to spoof bits of Fiddler On The Roof, including a bottle dance with grail cups substituting for the bottles. Glenn Giron, as Patsy, was also fun to watch. And he gets the iconic “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life,” which becomes a great dance number with umbrella-wielding knights. John Garry as Not Dead Fred, the Nun and Prince Herbert had some of the most amazing dance sequences in the show. He has an amazingly rubbery face and body in “I Am Not Yet Dead” that reminds me of the style of Dick Van Dyke. The only complaint I had (and it’s a minor one) was with Steve McCoy as King Arthur. His acting skills and comedic timing were wonderful and he is very endearing as Arthur, but his voice lacked the power that was needed in a few instances, particularly during “All For One” and “Knights of the Round Table.” His voice just seemed to lack the power for some of the meatier musical passages.
Original direction for the show was done by Mike Nichols, and is recreated here by BT McNicholl, and it is brilliant. As my wife commented, no matter where you look on stage, there are constantly little bits and gags being done. The sets are fantastic and the costumes are wonderful. It was obvious that the cast has a great time doing this show, and it was interesting to note that there was almost no time when the audience was not chuckling, laughing, or downright guffawing. It is a shame that this show is only here for three days. If you have a chance, and if tickets are still available, run to see this show! You will not be disappointed.