by Deanna Walz
There’s something special about being a Monty Python fan. You feel like you belong to a bit of a club. A funny, witty and special club. So much so that you watch your favorite Python films over and over again just to hear your favorite lines and quote them to your friends.
Friday night the house was full of kindred spirits for the traveling production of Spamalot at the Lied Center. It was a terrific production, perfect for anyone who has worked hard all week and enjoys a giant fish slap in the face.
Both fans of Monty Python and musical theatre alike will love this hysterical production that pulls many of the best bits from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie from 1975. A loosely told King Arthur story follows our hero recruiting knights for his round table, crossing paths with the Knights who Say Ni, the Black Night and the effervescent Lady of the Lake. It was difficult to not shout out my favorite lines when King Arthur encounters the taunting French at the French Castle. “I fart in your general direction!”
This is the second time that I have seen Spamalot. The first production was done by the Lincoln Community Playhouse back in 2013, and I absolutely loved it. This second time, I was just as tickled. A professional touring company of course was able to add to an impressive set and lavish costumes, but the heart of Spamalot is in the quick dialogue and the winks to the audience. I especially loved the Terry Gilliam-inspired artwork that descends when God makes an appearance to guide Arthur.
Leslie Jackson played Lady of the Lake and her commanding stage presence and powerful voice had the audience cheering after her final note in “Diva’s Lament.” I also loved Kasidy Devlin as Sir Robin (and many additional characters, in true Python tradition). Devlin has one of those faces you can’t take your eyes off of and had a way of delivering every line with perfect comic timing and expert cheek.
The only period of gravity came in an introduction that included a moment of silence for the victims of the recent synagogue killing. With a song later in production that references the stereotype of Jewish influence on Broadway, this moment allowed the audience to relax and enjoy the satire. “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” was one of the stand out numbers in the show.
Additional stand out songs include the Lady of the Lake’s “The Song that Goes Like This” which is a perfectly self-aware ditty that pokes fun at musical theatre conventions. The duet of “I’m All Alone” between King Arthur and his coconut clapping sidekick Patsy was as beautiful as it was hysterical. But the best song of the night is “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” an infectious earworm that actually appeared in the Python film “Life of Brian.”
Encouraging an audience sing-along for a final number as well as shooting a confetti cannon in the air, this production of Spamalot was all about audience fun and escapism. This is the perfect show to bring your friend who’s “not that into theatre.” Sharp wit, silly dialogue, terrific choreography and an overall sense of merriment will create an experience that audience members will remember for a long time after leaving the theatre.
For tickets or more information about the Lied Center’s Broadway Series cal 402.472.4747 or go to liedcenter.org.
With a professional background in broadcasting and media, Deanna Walz is currently an events coordinator and professional emcee in Lincoln, NE. An actor and director, she loves to spread her love for theatre to anyone who will listen.