Article 160

Monte Python inspiration: It's worth seeing twice

Zany 'Spamalot' keeps spectators laughing out loud.

Flying cows. Dancing monks. Flatulent knights. Sparkly showgirls.

And that's just Act 1.

"Monty Python's Spamalot," Broadway Theatre League's latest offering, is a laugh-out-loud medieval melee that doesn't quit.

With gags about African sparrows, flesh wounds and killer rabbits, the musical is silly, ridiculous and absolutely absurd. And that's expected from anything inspired by Monty Python.

But the show is so well-done it's worth seeing twice.

"Monty Python's Spamalot" (written by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame) is basically the story of the British comedy team's film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Be warned: There are numerous movie quotes and references in the show. But there's no need for a last-minute 'Holy Grail" marathon or a crash-course in all things Monty Python to enjoy the musical. It's funny no matter how little you know about the film. In "Monty Python's Spamalot," King Arthur (played by Richard Chamberlain) and his Knights of the Round Table are on a quest for the Holy Grail. Along the way, they meet a cast of odd characters like the Black Knight, over-the-top Frenchmen and knights who say 'Ni."

Chamberlain, best know for his roles in "Dr. Kildare" and "The Thornbirds," is fun to watch as King Arthur, even if he's sometimes not as animated as the rest of the cast.

But the 74-year-old Chamberlain still has those piercing, blue eyes, and he can carry a tune, especially during his big number "I'm Not Alone."

As a musical, "Monty Python's Spamalot" never takes itself too seriously. Characters aren't afraid to take jabs at typical Broadway fare - chorus lines, chandeliers and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

And no one makes fun of Broadway more elegantly than the Lady of the Lake (Merle Dandridge). The stunning Dandridge is superb while singing both "The Song That Goes Like This" - a number about the predictability of Broadway tunes - and "The Diva's Lament."

"Monty Python's Spamalot" is an extremely well-produced musical with beautifully crafted costumes, amazing sets and an overall creativity that's rarely seen in touring shows. No musical presented by the Broadway Theatre League in the past two years has been this dazzling.

Whether it's a flying wizard named Tim or a familiar Monty Python voice (listen for "God"), almost every scene is memorable.

Richard Chamberlain Online