The winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, Monty Python's Spamalot is has taken up residence in Raleigh, presented by NC Theatre and Broadway Series South. It is playing through Sunday at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
Based on the film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the musical follows King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they search for, of course, the Holy Grail. The musical features many of the memorable lines and characters that Monty Python fans will recognize (the Knights of Ni, French castle guards, etc.), but is not so esoteric that those of us who are not quite die-hard Monty Python fans will enjoy experiencing the quirky humor for the first time. The show takes plenty of liberties with regards to historically accuracy, but all in the name of comedy. Monty Python's Spamalot is, simply put, hilarious.
One thing that the stage incarnation of the beloved Monty Python comedy adds is an all-in-good-fun poke at musical theater. Musical theater fans will appreciate hilarious references from everything from Sondheim to Streisand (but be prepared, you may, like I was, be the only one laughing out loud at a hilarious spoof on Company). The big romantic ballad is called "The Song That Goes Like This," and essentially narrates everything that happens during the song, right down to an ill-advised key change. The show's diva, The Lady of the Lake, played by Abigail Raye, even comes out during act two to belt a number, "The Diva's Lament" about how her character's stage time has been dramatically cut since the first act.
The cast, helmed by Arthur Rowan as the legendary King Arthur, has keen comic timing and plenty of musical talent. Raye hits all the big notes required of the Lady of the Lake, and is well-suited to play the talented, if over-dramatic, diva. Everything in the production, from the hilarious ballads to the big production numbers generally hit the mark. Though the show goes from comedic bit to comedic bit, and doesn't provide a whole lot of opportunity to showcase one's range as an actor, the cast is able to keep the energy up and the show moving.
Though a light-hearted comedy, Spamalot is not particularly appropriate for children. Middle schoolers and older may appreciate the unique sense of humor this production provides.
Monty Python's Spamalot runs through February 17. For tickets and more information, visit www.nctheatre.com