Wee little Knights of Ni are we

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Plague victim Not Dead Fred (Daniel Myers, center) hasn’t quite shuffled off this mortal coil yet in Music Theatre of Denton’s “Spamalot.” A collector of cadavers (Eric Ryan, left) waits as a medieval mortician-type (Jake Smith) wields a shovel to speed up the process.

Company serves up silly ‘Spamalot’ with all the fixings

Music Theatre of Denton serves up Monty Python’s Spamalot with all the trimmings — silly sight gags, dry and lowbrow English humor, and coconut-shell hoof beats — this weekend.

Monty Python was an English surrealist comedy sketch group that hit it big in Britain and the U.S. The group’s television series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, debuted in North America in 1970 and maintained its popularity here through the 1980s and beyond, thanks to the series’ syndication and the films Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979), a movie that lampooned the New Testament in much the same way Holy Grail lampooned the grand British legend of King Arthur.

“The musical is inspired by Holy Grail, with references to some of Monty Python’s beloved sketches,” local director Bill Kirkley said.

Spamalot won’t be lost on those uninitiated into the cult of Monty Python. People who love Broadway musicals are bound to enjoy the very meta show, said Brynne Huffman, who sings the role of the Lady in the Lake.

“Honestly, I think the show is spot-on,” Huffman said. “The musical references all things musical theater. It deals with divas, it makes fun of those numbers that are in every single major musical,” such as the romantic duet between the hero and the heroine.

Like the artists who created the musical, Spamalot takes aim at the revered Arthurian mythology. The comic creators make light of a “system of government” coming from “strange women lying in ponds.” Even the great symbol of Christian valor and British military might — the sword Excalibur — seems delightfully limp in the musical.

Kirkley has lined up established and new talent to play the not-so-noble Knights of the Round Table. Eric Ryan plays the skittish Sir Robin. Kevin Wickersham plays the doddering Sir Bedevere, designer of Trojan rabbits. Sterling Gafford plays Sir Galahad. Jake Smith plays the role of Sir Lancelot, Bryan Patrick plays the put-upon Patsy and Ted Minette plays the role of Arthur.

During their search for the Holy Grail — the cup Arthur’s Lord and Savior drank from at the Last Supper — the knights encounter snooty French royalty and the dreaded Knights who say “Ni.” The knights also meet Prince Herbert, Tim the Enchanter and a French taunter.

Audiences might have to arm-wrestle to settle the question of which is sillier, Monty Python’s imagining of the Arthurian legend, or the larger-than-life conventions of musical theater.

MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT

What: Music Theatre of Denton presents the musical by Eric Idle and John Du Prez

When: 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, and March 7-8; and 2 p.m. Sunday and March 9

Where: The Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St.

Details: Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for ages 62 and up and $10 for students and children. For tickets, visit the website or call 940-382-1915.

On the Web: www.musictheatreofdenton.com


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