July 26--SULLIVAN -- Since its 1975 film debut, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" has been an all-time cult classic comedy. The Broadway production of the story, "Spamalot," racked up Tony nominations when it premiered in 2005.
The show ended up as a massive hit, one that is now coming to Sullivan's Little Theatre-On the Square. For director Christie Kerr, the show has become a favorite, although she had not seen the film when she first saw it on stage.
"I really think it's okay to see it that way if you haven't seen the movie," said Kerr of the show, which premieres at a Wednesday matinee in Sullivan. "I'd never seen 'Holy Grail' when I first saw it, and I still thought it was a riot. It's not a deep show, it's just entertaining. The back story is pretty timeless, because just about everybody knows who King Arthur is and what the Holy Grail is."
In terms of content, the show borrows heavily from the film, according to Kerr. It includes some of the same scenes and songs while fleshing out a handful of other oddball characters.
"I just went back and rewatched the movie recently, and I was surprised how closely the show reflects it," the director said. "I love the diversity of the characters, the multiple roles and the humor of it. And I think the added material in the show makes it an even stronger story overall. It just takes off right away and keeps moving."
The Python troupe was of course known for its absurdist, so-called "British humor," some of which has been retained in this production. But as "Spamalot" is an American Broadway musical, it also contains more traditional stage humor as well, along with a certain knowing satire of the world of theater.
"There is definitely some Americanized humor in it," Kerr said. "There's a whole scene about American Broadway, and they parody other shows like 'Fiddler on the Roof,' 'West Side Story' and 'Les Miserables.' It makes a really good appeal to American theater audiences."
Kerr described the musical's score as very diverse, full of songs that are "hummable."
"It's pretty upbeat, not slow at all, with a lot of clever jokes," she said. "It's actually surprisingly more tasteful than you might expect, not too bawdy overall. It's a big dance show as well, which I really enjoy, being able to join my experience as a choreographer and a director together."
The show will feature some returning talent, with Robert Anthony Jones from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" playing Arthur and Sean Zimmerman from "The Will Rogers Follies" playing Galahad. Leaning on its energy and humor, the director is confident the show will play well to its audience in Sullivan.
"It might not be for the youngest kids but there's nothing offensive," she said. "The costumes and sets will be amazing. It's a great, streamlined, happy show that just kind of zips by."
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