Monty Python fans have had a long wait to see a production of the Tony Award-winning Monty Python's Spamalot, unless they’ve traveled out of town. Now they have one more night to see it here in Sarasota, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. And if they’re anything like last night’s audience, they’ll be happily humming Find Your Grail on their way out of the theater.
Of course Pythoners know all about the Grail, which was the object King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table sought in the 1975 comedy classic film called—well, duh, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Years later, when former Python member Eric Idle decided to make a stage show of the same (with composer John Du Prez), he wisely kept many of the most memorable bits intact—the French taunter, the knights who say “ni,” a killer rabbit—but just as wisely realized that a Broadway musical needs more show tunes, more showgirls and more dancing than the original provided.
To that end, the co-creators brought in the Lady of the Lake, Arthur’s Excalibur provider and potential love interest; gave Arthur’s men yet another quest of putting on a Broadway musical to appease those knights who say “ni” (leading to a lavish number about how You Won’t Succeed on Broadway without Jews); and opened with the vintage Python Fisch Schlapping Song (part of a running gag about Finland).
Merging the old and the new works just fine; it’s all inspired silliness, with some scenes that many in the audience can probably recite word for word. The touring show doesn’t seem to suffer, scenery or propwise; there are still catapulting cows and that tall tower in which a captive princess—make that a prince named Herbert—awaits rescue. And the cast keeps up their end of things.
Among the men of Camelot, virtually all get their moments in the spotlight. Steve McCoy is a properly stalwart Arthur; Glenn Giron gets laughs as his dogsbody Patsy; Martin Glyer has lots of energy and seems to be enjoying himself as “brave” Sir Robin; Jacob L. Smith has a strong duet on The Song That Goes Like This with Lady of the Lake; and Adam Grabau and John Garry are a fine pair as Lancelot and Herbert (although it’s hard, of course, to erase memories of John Cleese and Terry Jones). Caroline Bowman has all you could want in a diva’s voice as Lady of the Lake, and she’s able to manage the shifting nature of her vocals, from classy to Vegas, with ease.
There’s one more performance of the show tonight (April 21) at 8 p.m. at the Van Wezel; call 953-3368 or go to vanwezel.org for tickets.