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Local News / Entertainment

Friday, 6 February, 2009 0:08 AM

Monty Phython's 'Spamalot' is A Must-See at Detroit's Fisher Theatre

PHOTO CREDIT: Joan Marcus

Spamalot- CAMELOT The National Touring Production

by Michele Kotlarsky
michelek@mac.com

 

DETROIT -- Monty Python’s Spamalot, the musical that set theatre back 1,000 years and captured broadway’s Holy Grail, the tony award for best musical, is back in Detroit for a brief appearance. Despite the brisk weather, I was lucky enough to attend the return engagement opening night February 3rd, at the Fisher Theatre. The show runs for 2 weeks, from February 3-15th, and tickets are available for purchase at the Fisher Theatre box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.broadwayindetroit.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Richard Chamberlain well known for his role as TV’s Dr. Kildaire plays King Arthur.

The show is lovingly “ripped-off” from the internationally famous comedy team’s most popular motion picture, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Telling the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in their quest for the Holy Grail, the camp and satire from the 1974 movie translated nearly flawlessly to the stage. Well-integrated scenery and props were almost never a hinderance to the story being told. Many spots were funnier than the movie and possibly more irreverent; not just to religion and cultural mores, but to the Broadway medium itself.

The show had a brief intermission and lasted about 2 hours. The costume design was spectacular and it was pretty amazing how closely the characters in this show resembled the original ones in the movie. They even gave it a local spin by joking about ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the show. Not wanting to give anything away, you will just have to go see it! The audience was non-stop laughing.

The Lady of the Lake was played by Merle Dandridge; what a beautiful singer she is. For a photo of her go to her website www.merledandridge.com. I don’t know how these performers were able to get in and out of costumes so quickly. It takes over 80 people on stage and off to run each performance. The show hires 50 local crew members to load the show in and out, and 25 local crew members to run the show. The Grail Lift that elevates the Lady of the Lake weighs over 4000 pounds and uses 2600 pounds of hydraulic pressure. Her costumes were all comprised of hand-strung glass beads that added an illusory shimmer to her character.

A nice touch is that parking was included in the ticket price and you can park at the public parking adjacent to the Fisher Building lot. The South Beach Restaurant was open for dinner before the show; we had a pizza and it was very good and inexpensive.

Christopher Gurr plays numerous roles in the musical and is tired of people asking him what his top five Spam recipes are. Here is a list I have found on the internet:

 

Christopher Gurr’s Top 5 Spam Recipes:

  • Spam Sushi: take some sushi rice, vinegar and sugar and wrap it up in nori — very easy finger food.
  • Spicy Spam Spread: This one reminds me of an English recipe, calling it spicy. It’s Spam, mayo and chopped pickle. It’s the pickle that makes it “spicy.”
  • Fried Spam: I’m from the south, so if you want to improve anything, you fry it. Slice it up, 1/4-inch thick and fry it with lots of butte. Cube and serve with toothpicks.
  • Spam Omelet: Always a classic, of course, and reminds of the original Spam skit.
  • Dress it up: Take an entire brick of Spam and place on a plate. I would carve into the Spam block … perhaps a Mount Rushmore is a nice theme. Add a sprig of parsley.


Here are some of my observations:

  • Camp and satire from the 1974 movie translated nearly flawlessly to the stage
  • Many spots funnier than the movie and possibly more irreverent; not just to religion and cultural mores, but to the Broadway medium itself
  • Well-integrated scenery and props that were almost never a hinderance to the story being told
  • Costuming and makeup so good many characters nearly indistinguishable from the originals
  • Multitalented cast of singers, dancers and actors led by the regal Richard Chamberlain as King Arthur
  • Perfectly-timed orchestration for impacts and laughs
  • Very difficult to stop laughing and hear the play, particularly during the fast-paced French taunting
  • Fisher theater the perfect size of venue for this play; like being with Arthur and the knights on the grail quest and partying at Camelot

This is a must see it is much funnier than I imagined, and a very well put together production.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / AMERICAJR.com

The Fisher Theatre sign indicates "Spamalot" is playing.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / AMERICAJR.com

A look inside the historic Fisher Building.

 

PHOTO BY MICHELE KOTLARSKY / AMERICAJR.com

"Spamalot" poster

 

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