THE MARQUEE IS UP!
Yes, MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT returns to Washington, D.C. in April.
Audiences and critics alike went coconuts for the production and Washington DC Broadway World.com voted MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT "Best Touring Musical of 2012." SPAMALOT will return to Washington DC to play the historic National Theatre in April featuring Arthur Rowan who was also honored as "Best Actor in a Touring Musical" by Washington DC Broadway World.
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SEASON THREE AND AUDIENCES ARE STILL GOING MAD!!!!!
“…much to the delight of the patrons who awarded Tuesday’s opening-night performance with a vigorous — and well-deserved — standing ovation.” - Triangle Arts
“**** the earnestness and conviction with which the performers attack the material keeps you smiling, and its sharp, self-aware send-up of its own musical form is spot-on.” - Indy Week
“If you weren't in the Sovereign Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night, you weren't having the most fun you could have” - Reading Eagle
“Arthur Rowan as Arthur and Abigail Raye as the Lady of the Lake, were stellar. Rowan’s deep majestic singing voice and comic timing were a pleasure to watch. Raye’s range of acting and singing styles were amazing.” - Show Biz Radio
““Spamalot” is much funnier than I ever dreamed it could be….had the audience in its feet, roaring its approval.” - Lubbock Avalanche Journal
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Go Behind the Scenes at Spamalot!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
SIR LANCELOT takes us behind the scenes at
MONTY PYTHONS SPAMALOT
Friday, March 2, 2012
The Bright Side Indeed
A ship-shape touring edition of the ever-zany and utterly delightful Tony-winning musical "Spamalot" has commenced a very brief run at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, continuing through March 4.
This tuner, ingeniously adapted by Eric Idle and John Du Prez from the classic comedy film, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," has just about everything lovers of lighthearted musicals hope for-- a fun and tuneful score, a hilarious and well crafted book, a splendid production design brimming with color and imagination, and a top-notch cast. All of the ingredients that made the show a huge hit on Broadway are evident in this blissfully entertaining edition.
Standouts in the shimmering ensemble include Arthur Rowan's sidesplitting turn in the lead role of alternatly noble and daffy King Arthur, the splendid Brittany Woodrow (a belting pop diva extraoridnaire and a drolly funny comedian) as the Lady in the Lake , Michael J. Berry as Arthur's trusty if goofy horse Patsy, and Adam Grabau and Jacob L. Smith in multiple roles. Yet there are no weak links in this talented troupe, as BT McNicholl deftly recreates the original direction by Mike Nichols with the aid of these brilliant farceurs. Lovers of musical theater will howl with laughter at the affectionate jabs at many musical classics, ranging from "A Chorus Line" to "West Side Story."
Casey Nicholaw's choregraphy is as witty and polished as ever, and Nolan Bonvouloir's musical direction and conducting are likewise exemplary. (Steven M. Bishop serves as musical supervisor.) The visual designs are Broadway-calibre all the way. The holy grail of musical entertainment is alive and well in this wonderful production, which should delight Monty Python enthusiasts, and might just convince those who have been resistant to the Python charms to make a conversion.
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Ft. Worth Star Telegram Review
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
'Spamalot' at Bass Hall easily surpasses high expectations for comedy
By Punch Shaw
FORT WORTH -- Self-consciousness has seldom been so funny.
Monty Python's Spamalot, which opened an eight-performance run at Bass Hall on Tuesday, is a musical that knows that it is a musical.
Eric Idle's stage version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail artfully works both ends against the middle. It exploits about every opportunity that a piece of musical theater can offer, all the while laughing at itself for being a musical. One of the show's big numbers, for example, is The Song That Goes Like This -- a tune that explains that it must show up at this point in the show even though it has nothing at all to say.
Fans of Idle and his fellow silly Brits will enjoy seeing and hearing some of their favorite bits (such as the taunting Frenchmen and a homicidal rabbit) in a slightly different context and often expanded with musical embellishments. Among the most winning numbers are I'm Not Dead Yet (maybe not, but he is not at all well) and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, a twisted bit of musical advice taken from the Python's best film, Life of Brian.
This is well-proven comedy. It was funny when we first saw it on TV in the 1970s, funnier still when we saw it in movie theaters, and the stage version has been a runaway hit since it debuted on Broadway in 2005. So any production of Spamalot has a wind at its back.
But, even taking that head start into account, this production more than does justice to the material. The players bring the right touch to their roles, the costumes are spot on, the choreography is great fun, the pit orchestra (while not note-perfect) plays with gusto, and the very expensive forest, one of many colorful and vibrant sets, looks like it is worth every penny.
Among the standouts in the cast is Brittany Woodrow as the Lady of the Lake. She dominates the first act with a devastating sendup of an over-reaching pop diva, complete with overwrought, American Idol-style deliveries. In Act Two, she makes the most of one of the show's "we're in a musical, aren't we" moments by bitterly singing The Diva's Lament -- a song that asks the burning question, "Why the heck haven't I been on stage in the second act?"
Arthur Rowan (can that really be his first name?) is a fine King Arthur, managing to be both dignified and ridiculous at the same time. Michael Berry scores points as his coconut-clopping sidekick, Patsy. And Jacob L. Smith as Galahad and Kasidy Devlin as Sir Robin are the best knights of the night.
And an unexpected plus in an already great-looking show is the use of a half-dozen fetching chorines, who often wear much less than their chain-mail-clad counterparts. Their presence gives this production an element of sex appeal that Monty Python never had.
So there is a lot to like and little to fault in this relentlessly silly pursuit of a cup that God (who appears in the form of Idle's recorded voice) was sloppy enough to misplace. And be aware that no Finns were injured in the making of this production.
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Richmond Register Review
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Monty Python is not dead … yet
By Bill Robinson Senior News Writer
RICHMOND — If Monty Python’s “Spamalot” didn’t offend you, then you may have not been paying attention. Or, maybe you were laughing too hard to realize you had been offended.
“Spamalot,” a Broadway musical summary of the British comedy act’s movies and TV shows, played to a nearly packed house at EKU’s Center for the Arts on Friday night.
The mock medieval knights may have carried dull-pointed swords, but their wit was razor sharp and knew no mercy.
The play pokes fun at almost everyone and everything, even Broadway musicals.
From venerable legends such as King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable to God, and from fairytales to fairies, all came in for some ribbing.
God must have a sense of humor, or He wouldn’t have made monkeys or little boys, I once was told.
“Spamalot” could be called “the best of Monty Python,” because it recycles many of the comedy team’s most memorable lines and situations.
Quite a few in the audience had to be Monty Python fans. They were the ones who laughed at the jokes before the actors reached the punch lines.
Others had to hear the entire line, and some even had to wait an instant before they got the joke and began to laugh.
The jokes weren’t all reruns, however. Several contemporary jokes, all in the vein of Monty Python humor, are interspersed among the comedy team’s standards.
Early on, “Spamalot” recreates one of Monty Python’s best-known routines. It is a parody of the Black Death, one of Western Europe’s nearest brushes with annihilation.
In the movie version, a plague victim says, “I’m not dead yet,” before being hastened to his demise and then loaded onto a collection cart.
In “Spamalot,” he gets up and cavorts around the stage while singing, “I’m not dead yet.” He is joined by the cadavers on the cart who already were dead.
Even the Black Plague can be funny if its accompanied by song and dance.
King Arthur’s Camelot turns out to be a Las Vegas casino and his Round Table a neon roulette wheel.
After God sends Arthur and his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they find that the grail for both Guinevere and Sir Lancelot is a male in chain mail.
Lancelot answers when he gets a message requesting rescue from a forced marriage. However, what he thought was a damsel in distress turns out to be a guy named Hurbert. After they are married, Lancelot says, “In a thousand years, there will still be controversy.”
Comedy is probably the most difficult of theatrical arts, but the “Spamalot” cast makes it look easy, as only the most gifted entertainers can. It helps that they are superb singers and dancers as well as actors and comedians.
Many students regard history as the dreariest of subjects. But, they probably never watched Monty Python movies or TV shows, and they definitely were never lucky enough to attend a “Spamalot” performance.
The audience Friday night probably never realized they were being educated as well as entertained.
Bill Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6622.
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Cedar Falls Gazette Review
REVIEW: ‘Spamalot’ serves up humor on a sterling silver platter Diana Nollen easterniowalife.com
Sunday, January 15, 2012
CEDAR FALLS — Being a Monty Python fan from the “Flying Circus” days, I knew I would love “Spamalot” a lot. But the Broadway national touring musical swinging through the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Sunday exceeded my wildest expectations.
I knew I was in good company for the matinee, when the second “bit” in the show (the chanting monks) drew hoots and howls from the capacity crowd. That reaction just snowballed for the next two hours of magnificent silliness as King Arthur turned his motley recruits into dashing knights of the Round Table and embarked on a quest for the Holy Grail.
Right in the midst of all the song-and-dance revelry was Monticello native and University of Northern Iowa graduate Jacob Smith, as the handsome Sir Dennis Galahad, the menacing Black Knight and the macho Neanderthal father of prancing Prince Herbert.
Smith was truly wonderful in each portrayal, wrapping his rich baritone around his knightly silly songs, his not-dead-yet Black Knight skewered onto a castle door and his blustering bully father. He drew the biggest roar, of course, during the final bows.
Every actor is roar-worthy, from Arthur Rowan as the self-assured King Arthur and Brittany Woodrow as the bewitching Lady of the Lake to her scantily clad Laker Girls and Eric Idle as God. OK, so we don’t get to see Idle, but his unmistakable voice booms from above as he admonished the knights not to look up his skirt.
Monticello native Jacob Smith, who spends most of "Spamalot" as dashing Sir Galahad, dons a different suit of armor to play the Black Knight, who loses all his limbs to King Arthur's sword, Excalibur. (Scott Suchman)
Idle, one of the original Monty Python sketch comedy crew, wrote the script and cowrote the music for this stage version of the 1974 classic film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Many of the best-loved lines and naughty bits are captured onstage and surrounded by hilarious song and dance lampoons, tap dances, soft shoes, high-kicking Las Vegas lovelies in their smalls (that’s Brit-speak for lingerie) and the Fisch Schlapping Finns who start the show in colorful lunacy because they thought the narrator said “Finland” instead of “Britain.”
So many moments are just showstopping hilarious, but perhaps the greatest joy is hearing the way Woodrow not only knocks every song out of the theater, but seeing her channel Cher, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion and all those other divas with a penchant for plugging 10,000 notes between the two written notes actually written in the score. She displays a tremendous range of singing and acting depth, as well as comic timing.
The scenic, costume and lighting design are as broad and colorful as the characters they encase. Animation tossed liberally throughout adds hilarious Pythonian touches, including the lyrics for a curtain-call singalong of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” That’s something this tour-de-farce does so well.
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Council Bluffs NonPareil Review
Thursday, November 10, 2011
'Spamalot' funny, inspirational
By Mike Brownlee
OMAHA – Two coconuts, clapped together to simulate the sound of a horse, drew applause in Omaha last week.
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” played at the Orpheum, taking the crowd – buckle up – on a quest for the Holy Grail that included encounters with women from a lake, a delightfully cute killer bunny and the French.
Based predominantly on the world-changing 1974 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the musical tells the history of King Arthur’s quest for the grail – note: depiction may not be accurate – while also taking time to make fun of Broadway.
What follows is a free-flowing take on the play.
I don’t remember the last time I was at a play and I’ve never been to a production of this caliber. Like a little kid with a shiny object, I was enthralled with the dramatic posturing of the actors. Hands, emphasis, eye contact, belt out a song, flourish. So dramatic, everything. Cool.
Funny and inspirational, this play had everything.
A song sung a few times in the show featured the chorus line, “find your grail.” The tune encourages us all to go after the prize, be it happiness, a new job or a good sandwich (these are my interpretations of a “grail”).
“There’s nothing you can’t do,” the characters tell us.
On the same note, when King Arthur experiences an existential crisis during the search for the grail. He’s discouraged and depressed.
“Life’s a piece of (“s” word for poop) when you look at it,” the King of the Britons laments.
Cheer up, his sidekick Patsy tells him. Look at the – cue music, let’s sing here people – “Bright Side of Life,” with help from song.
Surprisingly, the musical has just one real reference to SPAM, the canned ham. I expected it to play a slightly larger role.
Camelot is a Vegas-ish place, replete with showgirls and roulette tables. The number about Camelot was fun, but I couldn’t help but wish they’d skipped the castle, like the movie.
If you’ve seen “Holy Grail” you’ll remember the knights plan to go to Camelot, followed by a cutaway to (different) knights singing about the round table. Upon reflection, King Arthur decides that no, they won’t go to Camelot.
“It is a silly place,” he says.
Ha. I love that little scene so much, I wanted it in play form. Alas.
The curtains were barely drawn when King Arthur first entered the stage, “riding” the pastures of Europe. Well, he doesn’t actually ride a horse. Patsy claps two coconuts together to simulate the sound of a horse, while he holds his hand like it’s on the reigns. Didn’t think I’d explain the lede, did you?
The press kit for the play mentions the origins of the coconuts usage. The comedy troupe filmed “Holy Grail” on a shoestring budget, so what they wanted – the knights riding through Europe on horses – was too expensive. Hence the coconuts.
“Spamalot” featured just the right amount of making fun of the French.
Unlike the movie, we see the Lady of the Lake, who bestowed upon Arthur Excalibur, his super-awesome sword, which entitled him to the kingship. Of course, not everyone thought a sword was the proper way to dole out power, leading to a pair of great lines from Dennis Galahad.
“Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.”
I’m a sucker for self-referential, which this play displayed in a number of spots, the best of which came in a song from the Lady of the Lake (played by Brittany Woodrow). She sang a song asking, “Why haven’t I been on stage in a while?”
They told me it was for everyone.
Actors Jacob Smith (three characters, including Galahad) and Michael Berry (Patsy) told me “Spamalot” is for everyone, not just Python diehards. They were right.
My wife does not care for the movie. I rented it before going to the show to brush up – always be prepared, people – and she lamented having to sit through the film again.
But during the play she cheered louder than I, even throwing in a few “woo!” calls for Woodrow, who had an amazing voice. As we were leaving the Orpheum she turned to me and said, “this was way better than the movie.”
Way better? Can’t say I agree, but “Spamalot” was superb.
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The Post-Bulletin Review
Tuesday, November 8, 2010
'Spamalot' the holy grail of fun
By Drue Fergison
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
"Spamalot," performed Nov. 2 at Mayo Civic Center by a nationally touring troupe produced by Phoenix Entertainment, was a delightfully lively romp, with a little something for everyone.
Written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, who composed most of the music, the original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and won three, including Best Musical. That success continues to present day.
Billed as "lovingly ripped off from" Monty Python’s 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the production included a small collection of brass musicians, a conductor, digitized music and stage imagery.
While all of these elements worked together, it was the singer-dancer-actors — most of whom played multiple roles — who really brought the thing to life.
Along with this came first-rate diction, energetic physicality in staging and choreography, impeccably timed forward propulsion, lavish costume changes, masterful music, lyrics and singing and a nonstop, up-tempo blather of the absurd, punny, witty, provocative, outrageous and just plain crass.
The main plot is about King Arthur’s special relationship with his “horse” Patsy, his creation of a motley menagerie of knights and their collective quest for the holy grail. As expected, there were predictably unpredictable mishaps along the way.
Lady of the Lake’s love element with Arthur is obviously a backroom affair (until their marriage, that is) lamented in her realistic musical tantrum (“Whatever Happened to My Part?”) of a diva not getting enough “prime time.”
The musical is really a parodic riff on Broadway musicals, making fun of itself at every turn. The plot is rife with the characteristically naughty bits for which Monty Python is renowned.
What made the show a unified success was the music. Covering styles including Gregorian chant, medieval organum, French can-can, early rock and roll and gospel, to name just a few, the music was spot-on. Everything was paired with appropriate or, inappropriately appropriate, costumes and choreography.
The music was classy, clever, fresh, funny and authentic, even down to the “high-D” trumpet so appropriately tucked into a Beatles-styled tune.
The grail was found lurking at seat D101. Its occupant was dazedly escorted onstage, made to reveal her name and then memorialized in a blur of a small trophy award, Polaroid photo and a quickly adapted song incorporating her name, thus celebrating her unwitting role in the "holy unveiling.”
The audience ate it up, as they did with other tailor-made references to Mayo Clinic, Jimmy Johns and, of course, the Spam song.
In spite of all the hoof-in-mouth hoopla, however, the overarching message of the musical was an uplifting one: that it is by people (and animals!) working together that accomplishments are achieved.
The role of the audience in finding the grail was a knowing wink-and-nod testimonial to the fact that Broadway is dependent upon its audience. Rarely have I left any performance with such a jaunty gallop in my kilted skip.
Drue Fergison is a Houston freelance writer.
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Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil Feature
Thursday, November 3, 2011
'Spamalot' for fans, non-fans alike
By Mike Brownlee
OMAHA – You don’t have to be a stuffy, upper-class twit or even a drunken rugby fan to enjoy “Spamalot.”
So says the press kit for “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” which begins a three-show run at the Orpheum Theater Friday night. According to actors in the production, you also don’t need to be a Monty Python fan to enjoy the show.
Based on (promos say “lovingly ripped off from”) the seminal 1974 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the play features King Arthur, the Knights Who Say “Ni” (pronounced “knee”) and SPAM, that loveable meat-is-it-meat?-I-guess-it-is-maybe foodstuff.
“We get a lot of mixed audiences. We do get some huge fans of movie and sketch show. But we also get a lot who just like musical theater, also people new to theater,” said Jacob Smith, a Cedar Falls native who plays three characters – Sir Galahad, the Black Night and Father.
“We have something for people from age 10 to 80, men, women, Python fans, non-Python fans. You name it, there’s something in it for everybody.”
The play follows King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they seek the Holy Grail.
“All these hilarious, crazy things that happen along the way,” said Michael Berry, who plays Patsy. “Verbal battles with French nights, being lost in the woods… King Arthur has a full-on existential crisis in the woods. The knights find love, find the grail and we end with a big spectacular number.”
The original 2005 production of the play garnered three Tony Awards, including best musical, and the show grossed more than $175 million during its first run (about 1,500 performances).
After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa Smith, 29, saw an audition flier for a community theater production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “I just went for it.”
He got the part, beginning a foray in acting that took Smith to the New York City American Musical and Dramatic Academy and eventually to Spamalot.
“Everything, to be honest,” Smith said when asked what he enjoys about acting. “It’s so much fun. It’s great to be touring the country, meeting lots of great people doing this. Hearing 1,500 people laugh at you every night, it’s a pretty big rush.”
He said playing three characters is hectic, running around the entire show to get ready for another part, but, “that’s also what makes it fun.”
“What’s neat is all three characters are so different. It’d be different if they were close to each other. But they’re so very different, it’s just fun that way and easier to make the switch,” he said.
The nationwide tour – it began on Oct. 8 – is Berry’s first with the show. Patsy is King Arthur’s right hand man and anyone who’s seen the movie will remember that the knight’s aides provide the sound of a horse galloping as the knights “ride.”
“Surprisingly, that was one of the hardest things to do – get the horse noise down with coconuts,” the 24-year-old said.
Luckily, his sister, Alyson, was a champion horse rider growing up, so she helped Berry perfect the trot, cantor and gallop.
“We sat down and watched tapes of horses, practiced,” he said.
Berry grew up a Python fan, with his four uncles instilling in him a love of all things Python.
“Being able to do this show is a dream come true,” he said. “With a show like this, it is very funny, but it’s also very smart. The attention to detail in the script and production is great.”
“Spamalot” runs on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.ticketomaha.com, by calling (402) 345-0606 or at the Holland Performing Arts Center ticket office, 13th and Douglass streets. Group sales available by calling (402) 661-8516.
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