Tucked away in Jorgensen’s basement, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s final musical of the 2015-2016 season had a very different vibe than the typical Spring Weekend event, but “Monty Python’s Spamalot” brought just as many laughs.
The show is set in 932 A.D. in Britain – although the ensemble is somewhat confused about that – and follows King Arthur and his knights of the round table on their God-given quest for the Holy Grail.
If you ever watched the 1975-film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” as a kid, then Spamalot will feel like a familiar walk down memory lane. From Dennis the not-old-woman to Patsy with his coconut shells to the Knights who say “Ni,” many of the audience members could practically mouth along the lines, but that didn’t stop the jokes from bringing continuous ripples of laughter through the full house on Saturday night.
As its name suggests, however, Spamalot, which debuted on Broadway in 2005, brought much more to the parody of King Arthur’s quest than the original Monty Python film. Instead of just a parody of the Arthurian legend that it set out to tell, the show was a parody of a musical itself.
The Lady of the Lake and self-proclaimed diva, played by Actors’ Equity Association member Mariand Torres, made fun of the stereotypical format a Broadway show follows with multiple renditions of “The Song That Goes Like This.” The song followed the same pattern as any love song right down to the key change and hand clasped singers, but had anything but similar lyrics.
Despite the less than beautiful words, Torres’ voice was something to truly be in awe of. From its richness, to her commanding stage presence, Torres stole the show from the moment she rose from beneath the stage (or lake) to resounding cheers.
After God put his foot down – literally – and got the plot back on track with the introduction of Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail, the Lady of the Lake was there to give Arthur, played by Actors’ Equity Association member Richard Kline, the motivation he needed.
“There’s nothing you can’t do,” she told him, in a song that described the theme of Spamalot perfectly. There is nothing off limits in this show. No reference can’t be made, no line can’t be crossed and few jokes were left unsaid.
The beauty of Spamalot is truly in its simplicity. It was a simple set –one large cut-out of a castle is quite versatile in the Middle Ages – and the costumes were nothing too extravagant, but that was all the magic the show needed.
“It is wonderfully silly and fun,” said CRT-regular, UConn President Susan Herbst during intermission. “I love the theater here, and I love seeing so many of our students up on stage.”
Besides Torres and Kline, every part and ensemble member is played by an UConn student, including 23 undergraduates.
The second act was where Spamalot truly began to carve its own path, with one surprise after another, beginning with the Knights who say “Ni” challenging King Arthur and his crew to put on a Broadway musical. The show veers into a realm of jokes that were never touched in Monty Python’s film, and the audience gradually became more and more engaged, with one member even on stage (be wary of seat H1), as the references became more recent and the sketches become more risqué.
Spamalot is definitely one to catch before CRT transition to its summer season. The show runs through May 1 at the Jorgensen Theater. Tickets are available online at crt.uconn.edu or at the box office.
Julia Werth is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.