From the giant feet of God, which descend from the heavens (or at least the flies of
"Spamalot" is about King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail, kind of. Sir Lancelot is a closeted homosexual. Sir Robin gathers up dead bodies. The Lady of the Lake is a frustrated diva. And Sir Galahad is a Marxist revolutionary who won't accept Arthur as king.
The material is still getting laughs 25 years after the movie on which it is based and 45 years after a group of six British comedians created a ground-breaking
Monty Python was created by
"They are comic geniuses," Peck says. "The quality of the writing is impeccable and they make it seem effortless. It's kind of chaotic, but is masterfully crafted."
The staying power of Monty Python is evident by the excitement surrounding a reunion of the living cast members for "Monty Python Live (Mostly)" a series of shows at
Peck says he discovered the irreverent and boundary-pushing "Monty Python's Flying Circus" when he was in high school.
"I thought it was the funniest thing in the history of the planet," he says.
Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Artistic Director
"I was completely blown away," he says of the show. " 'Spamalot' is just insanity. It's sheer zaniness."
Richter says when Idle decided to make a
"It's an incredibly funny show and you don't have to be a 'Monty Python' fan to love 'Spamalot,'" Richter says. "It is the musicialization of the movie, but is very aware of itself as a
Peck says many of the most beloved scenes from "Holy Grail" are brought to the stage word-for-word. Fans will recognize the Knights who say "Ni," Tim the Enchanter, the killer rabbit and Arthur's servant Patsy, who makes horse hoof sounds with coconuts.
Also threaded through the show are parodies of
"It is a glorious mash-up of zany scenes from the movie with a comic pastiche of
At one point, Arthur and his knights go to Camelot, which looks a lot like the Vegas hotel Excalibur and features show girls and a flashy gay bar.
"The humor is shameless and without restraint," Peck says.
The operatically trained
The show's first act features turrets and a castle that spins around to a Technicolor nightmare, while the second act is the "dark and very expensive forest" of bright and colorful painted trees, Peck says.
"It has a bit of a feeling of a book of paper dolls, or a middle-school medieval pageant," he says. "It's kind of clunky but beautiful. It's a little like a Renaissance fair version of history."
He says the set has a cartoony-quality and echoes the graphic artwork of Gilliam that became iconic in the original series. He says many of the costumes are inspired by the costumes in the movie.
"The show satisfies the people who are huge cult fans of movie by giving them enough of their memory of the film but also give us ways to make it our own," Peck says.
The orchestra, led by
The songs, which include "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from "Life of Brian," are "zany show music," Richter says.
But above all the show is about the jokes, which come fast and furious, Peck says.
"It's a rollicking good ride," he says. "It's a blast doing it. We laugh and laugh."
Richter concurs, calling it "one of the funniest pieces of material ever done on the
-- When: Opens Wednesday, runs
-- How much:
-- Info: 484-664-3693, http://www.muhlenberg.edu/SMT
-- What else: "Monty Python Live," a reunion of the living former Python members in
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