Atlanta Lyric scores a hit with rollicking ‘Spamalot’


In their 1975 cult movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the British comedy team poked raunchy, irreverent fun at the classic story of King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table, and their consecrated quest for a certain golden chalice.

Based on — or, by its own description, “lovingly ripped off from” — that film, the 2005 stage musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot” takes it to another level. Conceived by Python member Eric Idle (who wrote the script and lyrics, and co-wrote the music with John Du Prez), the show not only parodies the Arthurian legend, but it’s also a sendup of musical theater itself.

On both counts, director Alan Kilpatrick nails it with his stylish and exuberant production for Atlanta Lyric Theatre. Monty Python’s patented sense of humor can be an acquired taste, and some folks dig big Broadway-scale musicals more than others. Even so, exuding an amiable spirit that’s infectious, the Lyric’s “Spamalot” is an utterly disarming delight (pun intended for fans familiar with Arthur’s bloody encounter with the Black Knight in the show).

Other famous scenes from the movie are here, too: a riff on the Trojan Horse involving a large wooden rabbit; a violent altercation with another little bunny; a battle sequence replete with a catapulted cow; and the running gag of Arthur riding around on an imaginary horse, while his trusty manservant trails behind using coconut shells to provide the galloping sound effects.

Later, amusingly, that page serves the same purpose during one of his sire’s new tap-dancing numbers. In another splashy musical bit, the mythical Lady of the Lake is accompanied by a group of “Laker Girls” who spontaneously break into a cheerleading routine. Camelot now appears in the form of a medieval Las Vegas, with no shortage of colorfully dressed showgirls and chorus boys.

(The lively choreography is by Abbey O’Brien. And when Arthur comments on “Spamalot”’s “expensive” production values, it’s one of the few times in the show that he isn’t kidding. The lavish costumes are designed by Lindsey Paris, the sumptuous scenery by Lee Shiver-Cerone.)

It may be no surprise to hear that the veteran Atlanta actor Bart Hansard is a real treat as Arthur. But if you’ve never seen Christopher Kent on stage before, his turn as the king’s sidekick, Patsy, is an unexpected pleasure. Additional standouts in Kilpatrick’s ensemble include Logan Denninghoff (as the virile Sir Galahad) and Blake Burgess (as a gay Sir Lancelot).

The true show-stopper in the cast is Mary Nye Bennett as the Lady of the Lake. Although she’s an accomplished musical performer on the local scene (most notably from Horizon’s “Avenue Q”), rarely has she demonstrated as much versatility as she does here, comedically as well as musically.

Under the music direction of Paul Tate and B.J. Brown (who also conducts the Lyric’s 14-piece orchestra), many — but not all — of the song highlights belong to her: from the rousing Vegas number “Find Your Grail” (done up in Cher drag) to the hokey romantic duet “The Song That Goes Like This” (with Denninghoff) to the hilarious solo “Whatever Happened to My Part?”

Tweaked to include a few local references – among them a plug for the Lyric’s upcoming “Cats” and the use of the one-and-only Clark Howard as the (pre-recorded) voice of God – “Spamalot” proves to be a consistently clever kick.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Bark, or chirp, before entering
Bark, or chirp, before entering

The moment I laid eyes on Daffodil, I vowed I would give her a good home. I found her at an adoption event for more than 50 rescued rabbits, sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals two winters ago. A silver rabbit, Daffodil looked more like a wild hare than any domestic bunny I’d ever seen, and I was instantly...
AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young mourned by Eddie Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, David Coverdale
AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young mourned by Eddie Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, David Coverdale

Malcolm Young – in the background, as usual, on the video screen – performing at Philips Arena in 2008. Photo: MIKKI K. HARRIS / mkharris@ajc.com BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene Malcolm Young was considered one of the most potent rhythm guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll. Though he was the co-founder of AC/DC whose...
AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64
AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, the co-founder of the rock ’n’ roll group AC/DC, died Saturday, Rolling Stone reported and the band announced on its website. He was 64. Young had been suffering from dementia for the past three years, which forced his retirement from the band that he founded with his brother Angus Young in 1973...
Louisiana veteran entertains motorists with saxophone
Louisiana veteran entertains motorists with saxophone

A Vietnam War veteran has become a fixture for music lovers in his Louisiana town. Donald Givens plays saxophone for several hours daily in his gazebo at his Monroe residence. His yard is located near the corner of two overpasses and commuters can listen to his daily jam sessions, the News-Star reported. Strangers pull up to his home and ask Givens...
Stolen Van Halen guitar returned to Hard Rock Cafe in Texas
Stolen Van Halen guitar returned to Hard Rock Cafe in Texas

A guitar owned by rock ’n’ roll legend Eddie Van Halen worth more than $100,000 was recovered Friday, hours after it was stolen from a Hard Rock Cafe in San Antonio, Texas, KSAT reported. The guitar, nicknamed “Frankenstrat,” had been reported stolen around 1 a.m. Friday. It was returned later in the day, but it is unclear how...
More Stories