You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Monty Python’s Spamalot

Colorful as a candy box and every bit as nourishing.

With:
King Arthur - John O'Hurley  The Lady of the Lake - Merle Dandridge  Sir Robin/Guard 1/ Brother Maynard - James Beaman  Sir Dennis Galahad/Black Knight/ Prince Herbert's Father - Ben Davis  Patsy/Mayor/Guard 2 - Jeff Dumas  Sir Bedevere/Dennis' Mother/ Concorde - Christopher Gurr  Sir Lancelot/French Taunter/ Knight of Ni/Tim - Rick Holmes/Matthew Greer  Prince Herbert/Historian/ Not Dead Fred/ French Guard/ Minstrel - Christopher Sutton  God - John Cleese

Monty Python’s Spamalot” finally arrives in L.A. in the wake of three Tonys, four years in Gotham and a hundred-city tour, though as a celebration of the inimitable Brit sketch team’s 40th anniversary, tuner is more enthusiastic than representative. Creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez have jettisoned the unique grit and bite from source pic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” retaining a bunch of memorable lines and routines for fans to revel in. Colorful as a candy box and every bit as nourishing, “Spamalot” gets its laughs and promptly recedes from the memory.

The action still hinges on the quest of King Arthur (John O’Hurley) and knights to locate the Holy Grail at the behest of God (voiced by John Cleese), but this band of brothers can barely summon up the energy to care about the search. They trudge dutifully from setpiece to setpiece — that is, from bits of familiar sketches to outlandish production numbers — all connected by little more than brio. 

Before “burlesque” came to connote X-rated sleaze, it referred to large-scale spoofery of serious pop culture, and in that sense “Spamalot” is classic burlesque: a little “West Side Story” here, a large chunk of “Fiddler” there; a smidgen of “La Cage aux Folles” vs. a whole lot of Vegas. Du Prez and Idle’s tunes run the gamut from Motown to Broadway, tap numbers and jazz hands in counterpoint with “American Idol”-esque caterwauling (the latter mostly provided by witty, pulchritudinous diva Merle Dandridge). 

And just as burlesque auds would begin cheering at a familiar sketch’s first words — “Slowly I turn!,” “Meet me round the corner!” — the Ahmanson’s Pythonmaniacs roar at the very appearance of the French taunter, Black Knight and killer rabbit (some nice puppetry and special effects there). Even those unfamiliar with these old routines are likely to get caught up in the glee of it all, especially as gussied up with Tim Hatley’s sumptuous sets and costumes and Elaine J. McCarthy’s witty, Terry Gilliam-inspired projections. 

It’s not always easy to tell the knights apart given the paucity of distinctive personalities, but they deliver Python wordplay with droll ease. In contrast with his preening turn in the Vegas engagement, O’Hurley brings out Arthur’s befuddlement and vulnerability, his echoes of the late Graham Chapman serving as tuner’s single most genuine tribute to the original troupe. 

Ensemble’s opening night spirits were high, but it’s been a long tour. Precision was distinctly lacking in Casey Nicholaw’s dance numbers, and it was well into act two before Idle’s lyrics could be completely understood.

Monty Python's Spamalot

Ahmanson Theater; 2,051 seats; $99 top

Production: A Center Theater Group presentation of a Boyett Ostar Prods., the Shubert Organization, Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie McClelland/Lawrence Horowitz, Elan V. McAllister/Allan S. Gordon, Independent Presenters Network, Roy Furman, GRS Associates, Jam Theatricals, Concert Prods. Intl., Broadway Across America production of a musical in two acts with book and lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez and Idle, based on the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Directed by Mike Nichols. Choreography, Casey Nicholaw. Musical supervisor/vocal arrangements, Todd Ellison.

Crew: Sets and costumes, Tim Hatley; lighting, Hugh Vanstone; sound design, Acme Sound Partners; special effects design, Gregory Meeh; projection design, Elaine J. McCarthy; orchestrations, Larry Hochman; music arrangements, Glen Kelly, musical director, Ben Whiteley; production stage manager, Kenneth J. Davis. Opened, reviewed July 8, 2009. Runs through Sept. 6. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Cast: King Arthur - John O'Hurley  The Lady of the Lake - Merle Dandridge  Sir Robin/Guard 1/ Brother Maynard - James Beaman  Sir Dennis Galahad/Black Knight/ Prince Herbert's Father - Ben Davis  Patsy/Mayor/Guard 2 - Jeff Dumas  Sir Bedevere/Dennis' Mother/ Concorde - Christopher Gurr  Sir Lancelot/French Taunter/ Knight of Ni/Tim - Rick Holmes/Matthew Greer  Prince Herbert/Historian/ Not Dead Fred/ French Guard/ Minstrel - Christopher Sutton  God - John CleeseWith: Matt Allen, Graham Bowen, Nigel Columbus, Timothy Connell, Cara Cooper, Lenny Daniel, Andrew Fitch, Alexa Glover, David Havasi, Erik Hayden, Sarah Lin Johnson, Carissa Lopez, Jennifer Mathie, Lyn Philistine, Tera-Lee Pollin, Darryl Semira, Vanessa Sonon, Steven Wenslawski, Paula Wise.

More Scene

  • Mr Chow 50th Anniversary celebration

    Mr. Chow 50th Anniversary Party Draws Stevie Wonder, Heidi Klum & More Stars

    Monty Python’s Spamalot” finally arrives in L.A. in the wake of three Tonys, four years in Gotham and a hundred-city tour, though as a celebration of the inimitable Brit sketch team’s 40th anniversary, tuner is more enthusiastic than representative. Creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez have jettisoned the unique grit and bite from source […]

  • Paley Center for Media presents They

    African-American Showrunners Talk Strides in TV Representation

    Monty Python’s Spamalot” finally arrives in L.A. in the wake of three Tonys, four years in Gotham and a hundred-city tour, though as a celebration of the inimitable Brit sketch team’s 40th anniversary, tuner is more enthusiastic than representative. Creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez have jettisoned the unique grit and bite from source […]

  • 'Annihilation' film premiere

    'Annihilation' Star Jennifer Jason Leigh Responds to Whitewashing Accusations

    Monty Python’s Spamalot” finally arrives in L.A. in the wake of three Tonys, four years in Gotham and a hundred-city tour, though as a celebration of the inimitable Brit sketch team’s 40th anniversary, tuner is more enthusiastic than representative. Creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez have jettisoned the unique grit and bite from source […]

  • Viola Davis Women in the World

    Viola Davis on #MeToo: 'If You're Dedicated to Change, Let It Cost You Something'

    Monty Python’s Spamalot” finally arrives in L.A. in the wake of three Tonys, four years in Gotham and a hundred-city tour, though as a celebration of the inimitable Brit sketch team’s 40th anniversary, tuner is more enthusiastic than representative. Creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez have jettisoned the unique grit and bite from source […]

  • LeBron James Stephen Curry All-Star Game

    NBA All-Star Weekend 2018: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Monty Python’s Spamalot” finally arrives in L.A. in the wake of three Tonys, four years in Gotham and a hundred-city tour, though as a celebration of the inimitable Brit sketch team’s 40th anniversary, tuner is more enthusiastic than representative. Creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez have jettisoned the unique grit and bite from source […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content