PARK CITY — Spamalot, based on the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a book and lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez, is a musical comedy that premiered on Broadway in 2005 to great praise and acclaim. For Monty Python fans and musical fans alike, the over the top humor as we follow the story of King Arthur and his knights in their quest to find the grail is full of non-stop humor and entertainment.
The Ziegfeld’s production, directed by Eb Madson, certainly delivered on the level of humor expected. Led by Caleb Parry as a supremely fabulous portrayal of King Arthur. From the moment that he entered with his noble steed, Patsy, played by Landon Weeks, Parry had the audience rolling with his humor and fantastic comedic timing. One of the highlights of the show was the second act song, “I’m All Alone,” where Parry’s well placed over dramatic flair with Weeks’ appropriate indignation make for a fantastic duet. This song was not the only fantastic duet of the show. Parry was also joined by the Lady of the Lake, played by Ziegfeld regular Becky Jeanne Knowles, whose talent has been seen both on stage and on production staff many times. She lends her talents in this production as the Lady of the Lake, and Cameron Kapetanov (as Sir Galahad) and Knowles deliver perfectly in the first act mockery of musical love duets, “The Song that Goes Like This.”
Because so much of Spamalot is both parody that is to be expected of Monty Python and also unique musical theatre aspects, there were two other songs that provided particular enjoyment for me in this production. One was The Lady of the Lake’s iconic solo, “The Diva’s Lament,” in Act II, where Knowles shows off her significant vocal skills as well as her ability to entertain a crowd. The choices by Knowles and a few others, likely directed by Madson, to break the fourth wall at key times, were quite effective and amusing. The song, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” lead by the highly entertaining Sir Robin, played by Quinn Kapetanov, also highlighted the fun choreography by Bryan Andrews. Many jokes within that song hit differently to devoted fans of musical theatre and people who have spent time in New York City, so for someone like me who lived for years in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, there were actual tears streaming down my face. Because of the subtle parodies within the script of the show, the choreography in the show pays homage to many different shows and styles, and I was very impressed with how Andrews was able to accurately reflect all of the different styles and yet still maintain the level of humor throughout the show.
Technically, the show was also well thought out. The lighting design by Alec Burden was the perfect balance of dramatic lighting changes when needed and overdramatic parody lighting to add to the humor when appropriate. The set, also by Madson, and projections, by Parry, were reminiscent of the Monty Python movies and TV series and made for a good time for fans like me to truly enjoy all the throwbacks to what makes Monty Python humorous in the first place. Costume design, by Timery Reis, had elements of flair and sparkle, as well as the expected knight costumes and the “horses” with coconuts that are necessary for Spamalot.
During the curtain call, the cast and production team of the Ziegfeld’s production of Spamalot have added a unique and well done mockery of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph Mega-Mix,” giving it a Spamalot spin. This moment was perhaps my favorite part of the production, as it is well known around these parts for my distaste of Joseph, especially the mega-mix, and my love of well-placed parody, so it truly almost felt like this curtain call was designed just for me.
For those who are less familiar with Monty Python, it should be known that the humor is of the PG-13 level, so decide accordingly when making your plans to see the production. Anyone who has seen a Monty Python movie can expect that level of humor. It was a great evening of lighthearted humor that was much needed after too many months of difficulty and stress.