BWW Reviews: See SPAMALOT A Lot - Now thru April 22 in San Francisco


Hodges and Hodges recommend that you go and see CAMELOT in San Francisco.  Oh, wait.  No, that’s not quite right.  Sorry about that.  Blimey!  It’s actually Monty Python’s SPAMALOT at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre, playing now through April 22nd.  Winner of three Tony Awards including Best Musical (and nominated for fourteen others), SPAMALOT is the musical comedy sensation lovingly ripped off from the film classic “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.”

Former Python Eric Idle wrote the book as well as music and lyrics.  He was helped by composer John Du Prez.  SPAMALOT tells the legendary tale of Arthur, King of the Britons and his Knights of the very, very, very, Round Table, and their God-given quest to find the Holy Grail.  As they knock about England (Instead of noble steads they knock coconut shells together, simulating the sound of horse’s hoofs) they eventually get lost and are scattered in a dark and very expensive forest.  As they try and find each other and the Grail, they each have their own adventures that culminate in . . . well, we won’t spoil the ending for you.  You’ll just have to go and see it for yourself.

Hodges and Hodges (Nick and Linda) were there with the whole silly gang to experience the side-splitting laughter first-hand.  See below for our review of SPAMALOT.

Okay, Linda, first impressions.

When you walk into the Orpheum and hear the unmistakable strains of John Philip Sousa’s Liberty Bell March you know that you’re in Monty Python territory.  That was just the beginning of the fun.

Of course!  Monty Python’s Flying Circus television show always opened and closed with the Liberty Bell March.

It really put the audience in a good mood.  And even before the show started you could hear people laughing over the Playbill, which had a fake title page listing a fake cast in homage to the original movie title sequence.  

How perfectly Pythonesque.  But even if you aren’t up on your Monty Python skits, gags and movies, SPAMALOT is strong enough to stand on its own.  All you need is a wacky sense of humor and a desire to look on the bright side of life.

Agreed.  From fish-shlapping Finns to flagellant monks and flatulent French taunters, the show was spectacular.  Arthur Rowan as Arthur, King, anchored the show, along with his faithful sidekick Patsy (the incomparable Michael J. Berry). 

Rowan was great and you could tell that he was having fun on stage.  He was very regal as the King while keeping the comedy intact.  After the show I caught up with him and he had this to say – “San Francisco is great.  One of the best crowds we’ve had so far.”  That may be, in part, due to the very well placed political Rick Santorum joke added for the SF audience.

Berry’s Patsy, just made me smile the whole show. His performance in “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” did justice to the name of Monty Python and he really hit it out of the park.

Tim Hatley smartly costumed the two of them in identical tunics, but the difference between noble king and working class servant could not be more apparent. Arthur’s tunic is gleaming white and in pristine condition while Patsy’s is a dingy brown and has become frayed - a testament to the 99% who do all the heavy lifting.

Yes, the Python critique of the upper class shines through quite a bit.  In one scene the King tries to recruit Dennis Galahad (Yes, Dennis) who is played by the dashing Jacob L. Smith.  When Arthur informs him that he’s the King, Dennis replies, “Oh, king, eh? Very nice. And how’d you get that? By exploiting the workers! By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the social and economic differences in our society!

That definitely got a big laugh here in San Francisco.  I think one of the biggest moments was when a closeted Sir Lancelot (Adam Grabau) is danced and sung out of the closet and into the waiting arms of the sweetly effeminate Herbert (a wonderfulJames David Larson – who also plays Dead Fred).

Another big SF moment was when Lancelot and Herbert get married. When Lancelot says, “Just think Herbert, in a thousand years’ time this will still be controversial,” the audience erupted in applause.

What did you think of the Lady of the Lake, played by Brittany Woodrow, Nick?

Woodrow had a crystal clear soprano – really a gorgeous voice.  I really liked her Whitney Houston-esque character.  She had moments of comedic brilliance but I just wish that she had busted loose a little more.

She needed to have more fun with the part.  But you’re right, her soprano was beautiful, if a little tame.  Each actress has to be given leeway to make the part her own though, and she did make it her own.  Who was your favorite knight?

I thought they were all outstanding, but I went into the show thinking that no matter who played Sir Robin I wouldn’t like them because I was such a fan of David Hyde Pierce’s performance on Broadway.  I have never been happier to be wrong.  Kasidy Devlin’s take on Brave Sir Robin was phenomenal.  He didn’t try to push the comedic elements of his part at all.  When he “soils his pants” he doesn’t overdo it and it is hilarious.  He allows the comedy to flow naturally and was born to play this part.  “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” was worth the price of admission. 

I loved the Grail dance – a take on the bottle dance from Fiddler on the Roof. Thank god none of the grails fell!  Sadly, one of the umbrellas broke during the “Always Look on the Bright Side” number, throwing focus away from the song.  It’s not the kind of thing you want to see from a Broadway touring company, but these things happen.

The dancing chorus girls, great sets and costumes and the beloved zany, whacked-out humor of Monty Python makes SPAMALOT a must-see event.

Yes, absolutely fantastic.  So…when you’re feeling in the dumps, don’t be silly chumps…

Go see SPAMALOT – now through April 22, right here in the fair city of San Francisco at the Orpheum Theatre.

Monty Python's SPAMALOT
Book by Eric Idle, adapted from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
Music by Eric Idle and John Du Prez
Two hours, 10 minutes
Now thru April 22
Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

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