‘Spamalot’ brings the hilarity of Monty Python to CenterStage

Have you ever calculated the average wind speed of an unladen European swallow? If not, it’s OK. It’s the kind of thing you only need to know if you’re King Arthur on a quest to find the Holy Grail.
CenterStage takes on this quest with its final performance of the season, Spamalot, a musical stage version of the comedy classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Monty Fields, a CenterStage veteran, is directing the production.
“With a name like Monty, I felt I needed to live up to my namesake and direct Spamalot,” he said. “I was raised on British comedy and Monty Python. It’s true to the source material, probably more so than the original Broadway show.
The movie, which came out in 1975, is considered a cult classic. The Broadway show, written by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez, came out in 2005 and was a hit.
The story is an irreverent, comedic telling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The Broadway production won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
CenterStage Director Frank Goodloe III wasn’t too familiar with the show until he choreographed it for a high school production.
“I was like, ‘this is absolutely hilarious!’” he said. “When we went into the board room to discuss the new season, and someone mentioned Spamalot, I was like, ‘Yes! We have to do that because it is so funny!’”
Fields has been working on costumes since September; at last count there were 186. With 27 people in the show, that means there are about seven costumes per actor. Because most of the costumes come with many pieces, there are more than 1,000 pieces altogether, Fields said. When the show is over, CenterStage will rent out the costumes to other theater groups.
“It’s a monster,” Fields said. “It’s gotta be one of the largest that we’ve done recently.”
Since CenterStage’s usual costumer, Kate Welch, is unavailable, Fields took on the challenge himself. “The main thing is that I’m kind of a control freak,” he said. “I felt like if I created the costumes, I could have complete creative control over the look. They’re such iconic costumes in the show and the movie, that I pretty much wanted to nail them.”
The show will be a full multimedia experience. The audience will experience it from the moment they walk into the auditorium, Fields said. There are animations and unique surprises along the way, giving a nod to other Monty Python skits and movies.
Plenty of new faces are in the cast.
King Arthur is played by Kevin Horton; Pete Lay is Patsy; Russell Cooper is Sir Robin; David Galloway is Sir Lancelot; Phil Buckley is Sir Galahad; Brian Engard is Sir Belvedere; and Bridget Thomas is Lady of the Lake. Molly Kays is the choreographer, and Emily Fields, wife of the director, will conduct the orchestra.
“The cast has blown me away,” Fields said. “I have assembled the Avengers for this show. The timing and instinct from the ensemble members up to King Arthur is just … it’s made my job so much easier.”
In the end, Fields hopes everyone will have a good time at the show.
“In this day and age, a lot of people have forgotten to laugh,” he said. “This is an evening of laughter, so if we don’t offend someone, we’re not doing our job.”
The show is PG-13-style. Audiences should remember that The Black Knight is famously dismembered, so don’t bring the kids. But the violence is mostly animated.
“I think people are going to have a good time,” Fields said. “The Knights Who Say Ni, the Black Night, the Castle Anthrax ladies, all your favorite characters are in there. It’s full of just fun Easter eggs and cameos. People really need to watch everything.”
Spamalot runs May 9-26. Next season’s season tickets will be available for purchase at the show.

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