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Monty Python's Spamalot | Fox Theatre

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spamThe Fabulous Fox plays host to this theatrical adaptation of the Brit comedy classic  Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a fast-moving, vibrantly energetic and thoroughly entertaining spectacle that virtually anyone should enjoy. theater_spamalot 

 

Now that's entertainment! I honestly can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself as much at the theatre as I did during Monty Python's Spamalot, the smash Broadway musical based on the legendary Monty Python and the Holy Grail film. This zany extravaganza brings to the fortunate denizens of St. Louis the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, the taunting Frenchmen with their out-RAGE-ous accents, the knights who say "NEE!" and of course, Tim the Enchanter and the killer rabbit. The production, with book and lyrics by Python's Eric Idle and music by Idle and John Du Prez, has a whole lot more up its considerable sleeve than the famous bits, of course, as additional songs and "plot" elements were added to flesh out the show in grand style. The result is colorful, inspired lunacy that few should be able to resist. Any Monty Python aficionado will be tickled by the number of songs and scenes carried over from the film as well as slyly inserted bits from the original TV series. But the more casual showgoers will also be delighted by the colorful sets, Idle's rousing (and sometimes deliriously silly) tunes and the continuous stream of laughs. It's pretty much a non-stop good time, in fact. Opening with "The Fish-Slapping Song," in which the dazzling work of Tony Award-winning set/costume designer Tim Hatley grabs your optic nerves and never lets go, the Mike Nichols-directed production bursts forth at a high level of energy from which it only occasionally falters. We're introduced to King Arthur (Michael Siberry), sans horse as in the film (with the trademark clacking sounds present); his various knights, i.e., Lancelot (Rick Holmes), "brave" Sir Robin (David Turner, one of the production's sturdiest performers) and loyal Concorde/Sir Bedevere (Christopher Gurr); and the razzle-dazzle Lady of the Lake (Pia Glenn). In one of the biggest additions to the storyline, Glenn plays King Arthur's would-be love as a big-league Vegas diva, who performs flashy numbers such as "The Song that Goes Like This" and "Come With Me" like some hyper-piped combination of Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston at her most overwrought. It's a hoot and a half to see Glenn backed by the scantily clad "Laker Girls"-bringing historical and modern spectacle together in a mega-farcical collision. And her duet with Sir Galahad (Bradley Dean) on that former song illustrates Idle's continuing ability to mock show biz years after the Pythons excelled at it. Sample lyric: "Once in every show there comes a song like this...I'll sing it to your face/While we both embrace/Then we'll change the key." Bloody good stuff, that. Idle's best-known song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is also here, illustrating what a durable and all-encompassing composition it is.

 

A nice surprise is the presence of John Cleese as, inevitably, the Voice of God, who has little patience for King Arthur's groveling and just wants him to get on with the mission of finding the Holy Grail. That sets up the wryly amusing "Find Your Grail," one of the more notable new tunes, which manages to make grail questing both metaphorically universal and utterly silly at the same time. The scene at the misplaced French castle repeats most of the classic taunts from the film ("I'll blow my nose in your general direction!"), and while not quite as wickedly over the top as the Pythons made it, Rick Holmes still does a great job here perched atop the ingeniously designed castle set. Holmes is even better in the Knights of Ni scene, which is splendidly funny and finds all actors involved in pitch-perfect delivery. He also portrays Tim the Enchanter in the infamous killer rabbit scene. Siberry anchors the show admirably as King Arthur; he's reliably consistent and does justice to the late (and much adored) Graham Chapman, who immortalized this role. While there are uneven patches here and there, only the fact that some performers don't recite beloved lines as memorably as the Pythons (and who COULD?) is worth noting. And I could have done without Act II's playing to the Cardinals-crazed audience, which brought yet another level of silliness to a show already stuffed with it. But these are minor quibbles indeed, and Spamalot overall is a fast-moving, vibrantly energetic and thoroughly entertaining spectacle that virtually anyone should enjoy. Get your tickets now, you stupid gits, or I'll wave my private parts at your auntie!

 

Tickets for Monty Python's Spamalot are on sale now and can be purchased at the Fox Theatre box office, all MetroTix outlets, online at http://www.metrotix.com/ or MetroTix charge-by-phone at 314-534-1111.  Orders for groups of 20 or more may be placed by calling 314-535-2900.  Ticket prices range from $28–75 depending on performance date and seat location. 

Curtain times are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, November 5 & 19 at 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, November 12 & 26 at 2 p.m. and Monday, November 20 at 8 p.m.  There are weekday matinees on Thursday, November 9 and Friday, November 24 at 1 p.m. with no show on Thanksgiving.   

Monty Python's Spamalot is presented by the U.S. Bank Broadway Series and sponsored by American Airlines.
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