OMTA’s Spamalot Presents Hilarious Monty Python Adaptation


Mallika Pandey

College sophomore Gina Fontanesi sings in this weekend’s production of Spamalot.

A student production of Spamalot, a musical based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, opens this Friday, May 3 in Wilder Main Space. I was able to watch one of the final rehearsals of the show, and found it a thoroughly enjoyable experience with a talented cast and ensemble that engaged the audience in some lighthearted and escapist fun.

Holy Grail is a comedic parody of King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail, and Spamalot follows the same path. 

“There is a lot maintained from the movie, and something that’s really great about the show is how much of that it retains, but also how original it is,” said College junior, cast member, and music director Miranda Purcell. “It’s not just a carbon copy of the movie.” 

This relationship to the film makes the show enjoyable to watch both for folks familiar with the cult classic and for those who are not. The theater production also adds the charming element of musical numbers. 

The humor of Spamalot is as varied as it is prevalent, not hesitating to poke fun at many subject matters in Monty Python’s irreverent style. The show is also uniquely shaped by its cast and ensemble, as the style of musical lends itself to updates and additions in script based on ad-libs in rehearsals. 

“The cast members and the ensemble got to make a lot of choices — they made a lot of side-jokes that made it in,” said College first-year and ensemble member Clair Wang. This tenor is an enjoyable part of the production, making certain moments different even for past viewers of the musical.

They pointed out that cast ad-libs were not the only changes made to the original script. 

“There were a couple of jokes that were outdated, and working with that was interesting,” Wang said. “We tried to cast things in less of an offensive light.” 

While Spamalot still has some material that may be considered controversial, this has been toned down a little by making a few changes to the script when needed. Yet here too, the director and cast have done an excellent job maintaining the show’s integrity, as the changes are few and far between, and little is missed from the original.

The show lacks the movie’s ability to use special and visual effects, and makes up for this with the array of musical numbers. While some of the classic gags from Holy Grail are sorely missed, the show does a good job of filling in for them with catchy and silly songs, giving actors space to display their abilities while poking fun at many of the conventions of musical theater.

Spamalot comes at an opportune time, with finals just around the corner. The show gives Obies a much-needed break from their studies. College senior and director Keifer Ludwig is quick to point out the role this sort of comedy plays. 

“We — both on this campus and in the time that we’re living in generally — tend to take ourselves and the world really seriously,” he said. “This musical … isn’t just escapism, but directly points out the absurdity of everything, and allows people to have a good time thinking about true-to-life, sometimes scary things. We hope everyone comes and gets into this space of absurdity and hilarity together.” 

The show has stellar casting — students capture their various characters wonderfully and do an excellent job riffing off of one another’s jokes. Spamalot provides plenty of quippy humor and wordplay, yet never takes itself too seriously, with ample slapstick gags. Monty Python’s humor is iconic, having shaped much of comedy today as we know it, and that humor, in all its ridiculousness, is on full display here. 

Too often in people’s lives, things seem to be going off-script. Spamalot helps us see the humor in these situations, and at the very least, have a laugh, while reminding us to always look on the bright side of life.