Monty Python's Spamalot

With Eric Idle's screen-to-stage musical spoof, Summer Stock Austin makes the Knights of the Round Table so very enjoy-able


Lydia Kamm as Lady of the Lake in Monty Python's Spamalot (Photo by Summer Stock Austin)

Musical theatre fans will recall the classic Camelot, Lerner and Loewe's earnest and somewhat silly depiction of the court of Camelot and the adventures of the Knights of the Round Table. Then there's Monty Python's Spamalot, an entirely silly depiction of the Knights of the Round Table. Relatively speaking, its humor and commentary fall safely within the comedic range of author Eric Idle (book and lyrics).

Which is to say, it's funny and occasionally outrageous, but not as outrageous as the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, on which Spamalot is based. It's a different creature, really. One is a film that broke cinematic convention with a humor and sensibility rooted in the comedy troupe's Oxbridge background. The other is what happens when you force a movie like that to conform to the current conventions of Broadway shows. For example, the song "Knights of the Round Table" in the film is over almost before it's begun. The humor comes from seeing armored knights form a sloppy kick line, interspersed with quick glimpses of the general nastiness of medieval life. In the musical, it's an extended, polished number whose humor comes from the deliberately over-the-top presentation, with grand costumes and amusing choreography.

Summer Stock Austin's production of Spamalot is strong. The high school and college student company has great singers and dancers, and their many British accents are quite good considering there's no credited dialect coach. (The French is nearly there.)

With this kind of comedy, there's a fine line to walk between overly broad and too subtle, and the cast, as directed and choreographed by SSA co-founder and producer Ginger Morris, finds a good balance most of the time. As Sir Robin, Coy Branscum delivers an especially delightful performance. He occasionally does that surprisingly difficult thing of just standing there without moving his hands or arms, trusting that stillness can sometimes be even funnier than big gestures. Spamalot doesn't afford much in the way of women's roles outside of the chorus, but the Lady of the Lake supplies some truly great songs. Lydia Kamm has an impressive and powerful voice, and she takes a part without much meat and makes it fabulous.

Like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Spamalot is an ensemble show with a lot of talent in the cast. Summer Stock Austin's production is an enjoyable addition to Austin's summer musical season.


Monty Python’s Spamalot

Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside
www.summerstockaustin.org
Through Aug. 12
Running time: 2 hr.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Summer Stock Austin
Summer Stock Austin's <i>How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying</i>
Summer Stock Austin's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
This musical succeeds on the infectious energy of every member of its enthusiastic cast

Trey Gutierrez, Aug. 2, 2019

Summer Stock Austin's <i>Haunted: A Ghost Story</i>
Summer Stock Austin's Haunted: A Ghost Story
This new musical by Allen Robertson and Damon Brown is darker than their usual fare, but there's light at the end

Robert Faires, Aug. 2, 2019

More Arts Reviews
"Renee Lai: A Study of Fences" at grayDUCK Gallery
In her grayDUCK Gallery solo exhibition, the artist considers not only what these barriers keep out but also what gets through them

Barbara Purcell, Jan. 22, 2021

"The Femme Abstract"
Moya McIntyre’s second edition of this group show ushers in the new year with a glorious plenitude of color and imagery

Robert Faires, Jan. 8, 2021

More by Elizabeth Cobbe
Book Review: <i>Network Effect</i> by Martha Wells
Book Review: Network Effect by Martha Wells
In this first full-length novel featuring Murderbot, the violent but endearing rogue AI is back for more adventures to delight "all the stupid humans"

July 31, 2020

Sad Girls Productions’ <i>So Lucky</i>
Sad Girls Productions' So Lucky
This world premiere from a brand-new company lacks polish, but it does honor its community’s stories

March 20, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Summer Stock Austin, Eric Idle, Ginger Morris, Coy Branscum, Lydia Kamm

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle