Chivalry Be Damned: “Monty Python’s Spamalot” Savagely Satirizes King Arthur and His Knights

"Monty Python's Spamalot" will return to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium on Feb. 12-17 (photo by Scott Suchman)
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” plays Raleigh Memorial Auditorium Feb. 12-17 (photo by Scott Suchman)

Like rude boys hijacking their high school history class and goring every sacred cow of the Arthurian Legend, Monty Python’s Spamalot blows raspberries at good King Arthur, his heroic Knights of the Round Table, and his mythic capital Camelot, much to the delight of Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre patrons who awarded Tuesday’s opening-night performance with a vigorous — and well-deserved — standing ovation.

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Britain’s bad boys of comedy transformed King Arthur, Lancelot, and cohorts into medieval wanderers, dodging mud puddles, pockets of bubonic plague, fearsome Knights Who Say Ni, insufferable French Taunters, and a bloodthirsty Black Knight, whose general ineptitude with a sword allows even his weakest opponents — such as King Arthur — to carve him up. Arthur Rowan is a stitch as the irrepressible King Arthur, a sort of Energizer Bunny of the Middle Ages who clip-clops alone afoot across the English countryside, accompanied only by his faithful squire/Foley artist Patsy (played with brio by Glenn Giron). Patsy is indispensable to the King Arthur, because he bangs coconut shells together to simulate the sound of the hoof beats of the king’s invisible steed.

Adam Grabau is hilarious as the brave but decidedly bent Sir Lancelot, the Knight of Ni, and Tim the Enchanter. Joe Beurlein keeps the ticket buyers chortling with his antics as a tweedy modern-day Historian, Not Dead Fred, and the light-in-the loafers Prince Herbert; and Joshua Taylor Hamilton is amusing as the handsome Sir Dennis Galahad.

Thomas DeMarcus is delightful as Sir Dennis’ meddlesome mother, Prince Herbert’s exasperated father and the bellicose Black Knight, who cannot win for losing; and Abigail Raye is lovely to look at and listen to as the mysterious Lady of the Lake — and she also demonstrates a fine flair for comedy as the frustrated Broadway diva playing the Lady of the Lake, who disappears from the musical for what seems like eons.

The current national tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot, handsomely produced by Stephen B. Kane, Michael McFadden, and Phoenix Entertainment, looks like a million dollars, thanks to the reproduction on the road of Tim Hatley’s original scenic and costume design. But it is lively and imaginative musical staging of Broadway director Mike Nichols and choreographer Casey Nicholaw — as robustly recreated by tour director B.T. McNicholl and choreographer Scott Taylor — plus the outrageous antics of a charismatic cast — that gins up the tsunami of laughter that rolls in, wave after wave, throughout the show.

SECOND OPINION: Feb. 12th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/02/monty-pythons-spamalot-gleefully-lampoons-king-arthur-the-knights-of-the-round-table-and-camelot/.

Broadway Series South and North Carolina Theatre present MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $30.10-$89.35 (including fees).

BOX OFFICE:

Duke Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8700 or info@progressenergycenter.com (information only).

Ticketmaster:800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/927819.

SHOW: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/spamalot-2640 and http://www.nctheatre.com/shows/monty-pythons-spamalot.

VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/media.php.

PRESENTERS:

Broadway Series South: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south.

North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/.

VENUE: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/venue/memorial-auditorium.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/directions.

PARKING: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/parking.

OTHER LINKS:

Monty Python: http://pythonline.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Python (Wikipedia).

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975 film):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Python_and_the_Holy_Grail (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071853/ (Internet Movie Database).

Monty Python’s Spamalot (background): http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spamalot (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=384261 (Internet Broadway Database).

The Tour: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/MontyPythonsSpamalotTour (Facebpook page).

The Tour Cast: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/cast.php?section=235 (official web page).

The Tour Creative Team: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/creators.php (official web page).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).