James Monroe Iglehart plays King Arthur in “Spamalot,” running at the Kennedy Center until May 21. (Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel)
James Monroe Iglehart plays King Arthur in “Spamalot,” running at the Kennedy Center until May 21. (Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel)

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Within the first few minutes of the Tony Award-winning musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” true fans of the Broadway production were quickly revealed. They were the ones who immediately reacted to familiar jokes from the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” from which “Spamalot” was created. 

With liberties, the film was based on the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as they searched for the Holy Grail. Like the film, the stage adaptation is edgy and funny, with nods to current events thrown in. The current Kennedy Center production runs until May 21. 

Being ‘Spamalot’ 

Eric Idle, one of the original Pythons, wrote the book and lyrics for “Spamalot.” John Du Prez is co-composer. The songs are smart with funny lyrics. The most well-known song in the production, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” is still an idea worth grasping. 

Without giving any “spoilers,” the dialogue puts the actors in the position of “breaking the fourth wall,” meaning they sometimes make side comments for the audience while staying on script and in character. With “Spamalot,” actors are letting the audience in on the jokes. 

The script is topical by inserting names of political figures that received uproarious laughter from the audience. 

You must remain alert because at times, the dialogue is so fast and slick you could miss something. 

Talent in Abundance 

This cast is over-the-top fantastic. Several actors are Broadway award winners and nominees. 

King Arthur is played by James Monroe Iglehart, who received a Tony Award for the role of Genie in “Aladdin.” He was recently in the Kennedy Center’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” In the role of Sir Lancelot is two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Brightman who was in “Beetlejuice” and “School of Rock.” Two-time Tony Award nominee Rob McClure for “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Beetlejuice” plays seven roles, but primarily tackles the role of The Historian/Prince Herbert. Everyone is in top form.

The character of Lady of the Lake is portrayed by Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, a Drama Desk and Drama League Awards nominee for “Beetlejuice.” Kritzer has one of the strongest singing voices that I have heard in a long time. She blew me away every time she said.

The audience couldn’t hold back the laughter. Blending the medieval setting with modern touches, like the use of a cell phone, happened easily and seemed to work well with the craziness on stage. 

Director and choreographer Josh Rhodes had everyone moving non-stop. Dance numbers covered the range, from couples dancing, to a line of dancers crossing the stage, to synchronized galloping horse moves by the cast. 

Scenic and projection design by Paul Tate dePoo III, plus costume design by Jen Caprio, brought beautiful light and color to the stage.

Tickets are going fast for “Spamalot.” Due to popular demand, an 11th performance on Thursday, May 18, at 2 p.m. has been added. 

For ticket information, go to the Kennedy Center website at www.kennedy-center.org.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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