Our Score: 5 out of 5
Blame Mel Brooks. When he adapted his Oscar winning movie, “The Producers,” into a Broadway musical, he set a new precedent. After sweeping the Tony awards, “The Producers” opened the door for many a hit movie/stage musical mash-up. In 2002 we got another huge hit when John Water’s “Hairspray” almost duplicated the success of “The Producers.” Three years later comic genius of Monty Python hit the boards with the all singing, all dancing production of “Spamalot.” “Spamalot,” which won the 2005 Tony for Best Musical, opened on Broadway with a dream cast including Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and David Hyde-Pierce. My wife and I saw the show on Broadway and the biggest compliment I can pay the cast and crew of the performance I took in this week in Kansas City is that it was possibly better then it’s Broadway predecessor.
Based on/lovingly ripped off from the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Spamalot” tells the story of King Arthur (Tom Hewitt) and his Knights of the Round Table as they search for the elusive cup of Christ. Along the way they encounter unhappy peasants, singing princes and the dreaded Knights who say “Nee!” He also learns a thing or two about musical theater, thanks to the many appearances of the Lady of the Lake (Janine Divita). With his trusted steed, Patsy (Brian Sears), Arthur and company take the audience through a musical journey. Python fans will recognize such familiar tunes as “Finland,” “Knights of the Round Table” and the classic “Life of Brian” song “Always Look on the Brightside of Life.” Python alum Eric Idle teamed up with John Du Prez on such future favorites as “I Am Not Dead Yet” and “The Song that Goes Like This.”
The cast is top notch and full of the energy needed to bring the manic comedy of Python to the stage. Hewitt, who earned a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Frank-n-Furter in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (ironically another role originated by Tim Curry) brings just the right amount of dignity (and a problem counting to three) to the role of Arthur. KC natives Divita and Sears gave their characters great energy, no doubt helped by performing in front of the home town crowd. Other standouts include Jeremy Webb as Sir Robin and Kevin Covert as Lancelot’s brave steed Concorde.
Though more then a decade old the show remains topical, with everything from the “Thriller” dance to Michael Moore to Beyonce’ being referenced. A great moment for the local Kansas City audience came when Concorde, possibly mortally wounded, lay on the stage gazing up at the stars, began wondering aloud if new head coach Andy Reid will be just what the Kansas City Chiefs need to right the ship!
If you’re a fan of Monty Python then this show is a must see. If not, see it and you will be.
“Spamalot” continues at Starlight through Thursday, June 6th.