“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” among the many chipper songs in “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” represents the show’s infectious, positive attitude.
It’s just one reason why the Tony (and Grammy) Award-winning musical, onstage since March in its own special Grail Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, is bound to thrill audiences for a long while.
Sheer silliness, a trademark of Python humor, is another reason for the success of the show, which is based on (or as creators say, “lovingly ripped off from”) the low-budget film favorite “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The movie’s famous elements remain: the coconut shell/horse-hoof clopping, the Black Knight who refuses to die, the Knights Who Say Ni, the killer rabbit, and the man who’s not dead yet.But added to the classic crazy antics in this production directed by comedy veteran Mike Nichols (“The Graduate”) is ritzy razzle-dazzle worthy of not only Broadway, but Las Vegas itself. Glittery costumes, giggle-inducing over-the-top gags at the level of “The Producers” and hilarious new songs by John Du Prez and Eric Idle add to the nonstop high jinks.
It’s a tribute to the show that one needn’t be a Monty Python geek to enjoy the proceedings. Better yet, this live version of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table goes even further than the movie in that there’s even a semblance of a plot. Theater lovers also will enjoy the plentiful nods to show biz greats, from Sondheim to Fosse to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
John O’Hurley (J. Peterman on “Seinfeld”) is ideal as King Arthur, who, after gathering up knights Lancelot (J. Anthony Crane), Robin (Harry Bouvy) and Galahad (Edward Standenmayer) to search for the grail, gets together with his benefactress, the Lady of the Lake. Nikki Crawford is pitch-perfect as the Lady, who gets two standout tunes, “The Song That Goes Like This,” and “The Diva’s Lament,” which poke particular fun at Broadway cliches.
Personifying the versatility of a fine ensemble member, Steven Strafford is a standout in a number of roles, particularly Not Dead Fred at the outset of the show.
Lancelot comes out in his own way in “My Name is Lancelot,” while Robin’s show-stopper is “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” with its to-die-for lyric: “There’s a very small percentile, who enjoys a dancing gentile, I’m sad to be the one with this bad news! But never mind your swordplay, you just won’t succeed on Broadway, if you don’t have any Jews.”