SAINT GEORGE — Fans of Monty Python simply must see The Stage Door’s production of Spamalot, a musical adaptation based on one of the most popular of the group’s films: Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As an avid lover of Monty Python since my childhood, I had high hopes for the show, and I was not disappointed. My only qualm with the show was the neglect of a few beloved scenes and characters from the movie, but I recognize that it would be impractical to include every bit from the movie. With the exclusion of scenes and characters from the movie, the show flowed easier as a story and as a spectacle.
Based on the original screenplay, the show—loosely—follows King Arthur (played by Dean Jones) and his trusty steed/squire Pasty (played by Brennan Walters) as they search for men to join Arthur’s court at Camelot. After finding an interesting assortment of knights, Arthur and his entourage are given a quest by God himself: to find the Holy Grail. The stage version’s book and lyrics were written by Eric Idle, and the music by Idle and John Du Prez.
Joshua Scott directed The Stage Door’s production, in addition to serving as the scenic and projection designer for the show. Scott has done a phenomenal job at making this sprawling, demanding show fit into a challenging theatrical venue. The use of the LED screen for the excellent projections and videos and the everchanging physical set were capable of fitting the show’s many locations and supporting the story. Choreographer Shellie Thomas and musical director Joel Thomas (both of whom also act in the show) brought the film to life with creative and lively choreography and fun music.
Another attention-grabbing aspect of the show was the wonderful costumes (designed by Tonya Christensen), which had many nods to the film’s costumes. Chops Downward‘s sound design had a few microphone issues, though these were often solved quickly. The rest of the sound design was quite amazing.
As Arthur and Patsy, respectively, Jones and Walters’ interactions were enjoyable to watch, and their voices blended beautifully together in the song “I’m All Alone,” in which Arthur laments his loneliness, much to the exasperation of his ignored companion, Patsy. Jones’s stately presence was perfect for the farcical king, as well as being one of the most straightforward characters in this fantastical show. Walters juxtapositions his constant counterpart in his humorous adlibs and facial expressions.
The Lady of the Lake is only mentioned in the film, but is a prominent figure in the musical. She appears frequently in the first Act, however in the second Act, she seems nowhere to be found, which she laments in the song “Whatever Happened to My Part?” Bang is fantastic at singing this song, particularly in a long-held note that was very reminiscent of a similar note in Annie Get Your Gun’s song “Anything You Can Do.” In her final scene, Bang oscillates between displays a false coyness that is a fun bit of comedy before unveiling a surprising costume choice.
In following the versatility of the original Pythons themselves, every member of the cast played a variety of characters, with the exception of Jones, Walters, and Brooke Bang (the latter playing the Lady of the Lake). The downside to this doubling of roles were that there were times when I was not which character an actor was playing. But with such an incredibly talented and enjoyable cast, every performance was enjoyable.
As the cowardly Sir Robin, Joel Thomas was a joy to watch, particularly in Robin’s song “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway.” This song praised the presence and contribution of Jewish actors to Broadway and even featured a well-known bottle dance from Fiddler On the Roof. Joel Thomas also brilliantly plays Brother Maynard, who provides Arthur with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
The introduction of Sir Galahad (played by Andy Young) was surprising because he is a combination of two characters. Audiences first meet Sir Galahad as Dennis, the troublesome anarcho-syndicalist serf Arthur meets. Denis promises he will become a knight if Arthur can prove his story of becoming king, which Arthur does by introducing Dennis and the audience to the lovely Lady of the Lake. Another prominent character that Young portrays is that “invincible” loony, the Black Knight. The iconic duel between Arthur and the Black Knight was absolutely perfect in this stage rendition. To Young’s distinguished character list is the somewhat neglectful and slightly tyrannical father of Herbert (played by Owen Scott), the effeminate prince whom Lancelot rescues from imprisonment and an arranged marriage. The ensemble is equally as important and talented as the main knights, and there is a myriad of things I would love to rave about their contributions and moments, but time and words restrict me thus.
In hindsight, The Stage Door produced one of the best shows I’ve seen with Spamalot. My only complaint is that I saw the show late in its run. With only two performances left, it is my hope that the Electric Theater fills to the brim with people who will love the show as much as I did.