'Monty Python's Spamalot' - the Broadway Musical
Created | Updated Jan 17, 2007
Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?
Monty Python's Spamalot is a Broadway musical comedy 'lovingly ripped off' from the 1975 cult classic motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail, about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table charged by God to seek the holy grail.
Python Eric Idle originally wanted to make a sequel to The Holy Grail, but since the other Pythons were not convinced, he decided to make a musical of the original movie instead. In 2002 he got together with composer John du Prez to collaborate on a musical score for the show. Idle also wrote the script. Spamalot was directed by Mike Nichols1 and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw.
Previews of Spamalot began at the Chicago Shubert Theater from 21 December, 2004. On 9 January, 2005, it officially opened there. After previews beginning on 14 February, Spamalot then opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theater in New York City, on 17 March, 2005, where there was a reunion of all the Pythons2. The show opened in London at the Palace Theatre in October, 2006.
In 2005, Spamalot was nominated for 14 Tony Awards, winning three: Best Musical; Best Direction of a Musical (Mike Nichols); and Best Performance by a Featured Actress (Sara Ramirez).
Origin of the Name
'Spamalot' is an obvious play on words, combining 'Camelot' and 'Spam', the tinned meat which has great significance in the Monty Python world. It comes from the song 'The Knights of the Round Table', featured in both the movie and the musical, a product of the need for something to rhyme with 'Camelot':
We dine well here in Camelot
We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.
The original Broadway cast was as follows:
Hank Azaria4 - Sir 'Lance' Lancelot the Homicidally Brave, The French Taunter, The Knight of Ni, Tim the Enchanter
David Hyde Pierce5 - Sir Robin the Not Quite So Brave As Sir Lancelot, Guard One, Brother Maynard
Steve Rosen - Sir Bedevere the Strangely Flatulent, Dennis's mother, Concorde
Christopher Sieber - Sir Dennis Galahad the Dashingly Handsome, The Black Knight, Prince Herbert's father
Michael McGrath - Patsy, Mayor, Guard Two
Sara Ramirez - The Lady of the Lake
Christian Borle - Historian, Not Dead Fred, French guard, Minstrel, Prince Herbert
One Rabbit Stew Comin' Right Up!
Spamalot features many of the best-loved bits from the movie, including the Killer Rabbit, the Black Knight, coconuts, the Knights Who Say 'Ni!' and an intelligent debate on the airspeed velocities and migratory patterns of swallows, both European and African. Unfortunately, it does not feature the Witch Trial scene, the Three-Headed Knight, the Bridge of Eternal Peril, or Roger the Shrubber. However, there are elements of the show that were not featured in the movie, such as the Lady of the Lake. Moreover, Spamalot ends rather differently than the film and arguably for the better, since Spamalot's ending is at least more satisfying than the film's.
Throughout the show, there are various references to famous Monty Python sketches such as the Lumberjack Song, the Fish Slapping Dance and the Dead Parrot Sketch, that Python fans will recognise. There are also spoofs of things from other musicals such as Singin' in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and Les Misérables.
Lyrics for all the songs were written by Eric Idle and the music by John du Prez and Eric Idle, except for: 'Finland' by Michael Palin; 'Knights of the Round Table' by Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Neil Innes; 'Brave Sir Robin' by Eric Idle and Neil Innes; and 'Always Look On the Bright Side of Life' by Eric Idle, solo.
I Said ENGLAND!
'Finland/Fisch Schlapping Dance' - The result of a mix-up between 'Finland' and 'England'.
'King Arthur's Song' - A majestic song sung by Arthur, King of the Britons, lord and ruler of England, Scotland and even tiny bits of Gaul. Reprised in 'Laker Girls' Cheer'.
'Monks' Chant/He Is Not Dead Yet' - The famous plague village scene. In the film, the story wanders around for a while until it gets to the actual plotline, but in the show they put this scene to use instead and introduce Sir Robin, as the body collector, and Lancelot, as the man disposing of his almost but not quite entirely dead father.
'Come With Me' - A ballad sung by the Lady of the Lake. Again, the show puts to use a scene that originally contributed nothing to the plot of the movie: King Arthur proves to Dennis Galahad, a mud-stacking peasant, that the Lady of the Lake exists and that strange women lying around in ponds distributing swords sometimes can be a system of government.
'Laker Girls' Cheer' - The Lady of the Lake's Laker Girls cheer on Dennis to enlist in King Arthur's Army.
'The Song That Goes Like This' - A duet between Galahad and the Lady of the Lake. This song tells that once in every show, there is always a song that goes like this.
'He is Not Dead Yet (Playoff)' - A catchy army chant.
'All For One' - King Arthur has gathered together his faithful Knights of the Round Table. In this 'campfire song' they vow all for one and one for all, though slightly less for people they don't like.
'Knights of the Round Table/The Song That Goes Like This (Reprise)' - An elaborate musical number set in Camelot which also featured in the film.
'Find Your Grail' - An inspirational song sung by the Lady of the Lake, to send the knights on their quest.
'Run Away!' - After a not-so-successful attempt to make friends with the French.
Nobody Will Go, Sir, If It's Not Kosher Then No Show, Sir.
'Always Look On the Bright Side of Life' - Sung by Patsy and Arthur, while lost in a dark and very expensive forest. This song was originally in another Python movie, Monty Python's Life of Brian.
'Brave Sir Robin' - A gory madrigal-type song sung by Robin's minstrel which was also in the film.
'You Won't Succeed on Broadway' - Sir Robin explains to Arthur in a spoken-word song that they can't make it on Broadway without any Jews.
'Diva's Lament (What Ever Happened to My Part?)' - The Lady of the Lake complains about the fact that it's halfway through Act Two and she hasn't had a song yet.
'Where Are You?' - Sung by Prince Herbert, though rudely interrupted.
'His Name is Lancelot' - A disco song in which Sir Lancelot finds out that he's a different kind of guy.
'I'm All Alone' - Sung by Arthur...and Patsy, though he is completely unnoticed by Arthur.
'Twice In Every Show' - A near-reprise of 'The Song That Goes Like This', sung by Arthur and The Lady of the Lake.
'Act Two Finale' - The End.
'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' - An audience singalong.
Stop it! Stop that! Stop all that singing!
Clop Clop Clop Clop Clop Clop ...
On 22 March, 2006, 1,789 people gathered outside the Shubert Theater in New York to each clap together two coconut halves. The 'World's Largest Coconut Orchestra' is officially noted in the Guinness Book of World Records.