Lovingly ripped off from the classic film “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” and winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, Spamalot is the outrageous musical comedy which retells the tale of King Arthur and his (misfit) Knights of The Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Complete with a troupe of beautiful showgirls, flying cows, killer bunnies, taunting flatulent Frenchmen and show-stopping musical numbers are just a few reasons to grab a ticket and prepare to Spam up!
The story opens in England’s 932 A.D. in a divided kingdom. Following an introduction voice over by no other than musical writer and Monty Python actor Eric Idle, which encourages members of the audience to "let your cell phones and pagers ring willy-nilly," and comments that they should "be aware there are heavily armed knights on stage that may drag you on stage” and soon the golden curtain lifted to reveal a splendid Knights castle complete with two towers, where the “Knowledgeable Knarrator” (Frank Badger) introduces us to England 932 A.D. and soon the cast enter the stage having confused the word “England” for “Finland”. It was easy to see how anyone could have genuinely misheard the Historian however, as I feel that given tonight was in fact the full dress rehearsal for which I’d been kindly granted access to attend having got prior theatre commitments on the show’s opening night of Wednesday 16th May, as nerves were getting the better of Badger at the beginning and I barely caught one word he spoke. However as the story progressed Badger soon got the better of his nerves and gave a notable performance and his characters humour soon shone through. Believing Finland was given as the story’s setting, the cast came on in traditional Swedish clothing, launching into a highly comical fish slapping dance (Fisch Schlapping Song).
Admittedly I wouldn’t class myself as a Monty Python fan, although my only experience is when I fell asleep to Life of Brian in class at school!
However I went with an open mind - Monty Python films are a little like Marmite as in you either love it or hate it. I went in with the memories of Python movies leaving a bitter taste but left with an altered opinion. I won’t go as far to say I’m converted, but Southey Musical Theatre Company delivered such a fabulous performance that I couldn’t help but leave with a positive feeling - doing what I’ve always struggled to do in life ie “Always Look on the Bright Side (of Life)”.
Noteworthy performances include King Arthur, (Mark Holmes) the leader of the Knights of the Round Table, bringing in laughs a plenty from the moment he gallops on stage on his noble “horse” with his dim witted side kick Patsy (Eli Grange) who is hiding a big secret. Vocally the show stealer has to be Gina Townend in the role of The Lady of the Lake, along with some stunning costumes and wigs, it was exciting waiting to see what she would sing next or what amazing costume she’d float onto stage in.
The cast dance routines, particularly in the bigger numbers such as the classic “Always Look on the Bright Side”, which had elements of Singin In The Rain, add to what is a delightful production of the award winning musical.
Tickets for the run are available via The Montgomery Theatre website, so pull up a chair and prepare to join the Knights at The Round Table. Just remember though: What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot!
Playing at The Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield - Wednesday 16th May to Saturday 19th May 2018. Tickets available via www.themontgomery.org.uk
Reviewer: Charlotte Browne
Reviewed: 15th May 2018