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Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:57

A knight to remember

Written by Bob Wilcox
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The Details

  • Director: Denis Jones
  • Dates: June 17-23, 2013

The Muny opened its 2013 season on Monday night, a little late and with some trepidation. The monsoon Monday afternoon washed out the final dress rehearsal, which The Muny normally has on the afternoon of the opening evening. So as Executive Producer Mike Isaacson noted a little uneasily in his lengthy curtain speech, Monday night was technical rehearsal, dress rehearsal, and opening night rolled into one.

We could see that they had some problems. The big electronic screen, new last year, was missing maybe a quarter of its pixels, leaving some odd black rectangles blotting the picture. That was more unfortunate for this show than for some because this was Monty Python's Spamalot, and projection designer Nathan W. Scheuer created clever animations in the vein of those we loved on TV's Flying Circus. Usually we could see enough to get the idea and get the laugh.

I think the lights also were not always functioning as designer Seth Jackson intended, though that problem appeared to clear up by the second act.

But the cast showed no signs of unease, distress, or lack of rehearsal. It surely helped that most of the leads have done this show before on Broadway, on tour, and in Las Vegas. Several of them are regulars at The Muny, so St. Louis weather doesn't rattle them.

John O'Hurley is the brilliant choice to play King Arthur, which has led to some jokes about J. Peterman and Dancing with the Stars being added to the script.

With direction and choreography by Denis Jones, who did the splendid Chicago last year at The Muny, the cast are fully in tune with Monty Python's rigidly skewed logic, flatfooted naivete, and sheer silliness. Steve Gilliam's scenery make no more pretense at being real trees and castles than the actors do at being real Knights of the Round Table. They're all putting on a show. And boy, are we lucky that they are.

And Bob Costas continues to be the Voice of God.

On Monday night, O'Hurley stopped the curtain call to announce a special guest. Out walked Eric Idle, one of the original Pythons, author of the book and lyrics for Spamalot and co-composer with John Du Prez of the music. He was there, he said, to observe the first outdoor performance of Spamalot, the largest audience ever to see Spamalot at one time, and to lead us all in singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which, he assured us, would go in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest crowd ever to sing that song.

It was a perfect Monty Python ending to the evening.

Additional Info

  • Director: Denis Jones
  • Dates: June 17-23, 2013

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