Spoofy ‘Spamalot’ returns to Las Vegas as Super Summer Theatre production

Phil Shelburne’s used to working knights.

After all, he’s been the director of Excalibur’s resident King Arthur pageant, “Tournament of Kings,” for 14 years.

But he’s known the knights of “Spamalot” for a lot longer than that.

That’s because “Spamalot” — Super Summer Theatre’s zany Monty Python musical, now playing at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park — is based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

And that 1975 cinematic romp was “actually the first theatrical thing” Shelburne remembers seeing.

“It was the first script I ever bought,” Shelburne recalls. And, after buying the script, “I went around enacting” sequences from the movie, “doing all the parts. It was the first remote theatrical interest” the future director had, he says.

No wonder Shelburne suggested the Tony-winning “Spamalot” for a Super Summer Theatre berth as soon as the theatrical rights were available.

“Spamalot” preserves the movie’s central focus: the quest of King Arthur and his knights for the Holy Grail. (Assuming such a knockabout romp can be said to have a central focus, that is.)

In addition to spoofing the heroic King Arthur and his knights, however, “Spamalot” adds a second target: showbiz itself, which comes in for considerable skewering in the madcap musical numbers, most of which were written by former Python stalwart Eric Idle — who also wrote “Spamalot’s” book — and John DuPrez. (The exceptions: movie holdovers “Knights of the Round Table” and “Brave Sir Robin,” both by Neil Innes, and Idle’s sing-along favorite, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which made its debut in the 1979 cinematic opus, “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.”)

The combination of comedy and musical comedy adds up to nothing more, or less, than “fun and silliness,” Shelburne says.

Initially, the director thought there might be “a considerable amount of tie-in” between the worlds of “Spamalot” and “Tournament of Kings.”

Now that he’s staged the show, however, Shelburne realizes there’s “not really much similar” between the two.

Except, of course, for the portion of “Spamalot” that transports audiences to “the town that never sleeps … it’s Camelot!” (Any similarities between “Spamalot’s” Camelot and the glittering Vegas Strip are, we presume, far from coincidental.)

Cue the aforementioned “Knights of the Round Table” number, in which the title characters “dance whene’er we’re able,” doing “routines and chorus schemes with footwork impecc-able.” They also “dine well here in Camelot,” eating “ham and jam and spam alot.” (And now you know where “Spamalot” gets its title.)

“We make fun of Las Vegas and the Excalibur,” Shelburne acknowledges. “There’s a good homage to that.”

Speaking of the Strip, Super Summer’s “Spamalot” is the complete package — including the material cut from the show for the 90-minute, intermissionless version that played Wynn Las Vegas in 2007 and 2008. (The Wynn production was contracted to run for up to 10 years, but only lasted 15 months.)

Among the restored elements: the song “All for One,” in which a historian explains how King Arthur (played by Glenn Heath) gathered “the strongest and bravest in the land to sit at the Round Table,” including the “homicidally brave Sir Lancelot” (Steve Huntsman) and “Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave as Sir-Lancelot” (Scott Gibson Eubele, in Idle’s original “Holy Grail” role).

Also along for the ride: Arthur’s faithful companion Patsy (Evan Litt), who naturally bangs coconuts together to provide the clip-clops required to simulate the hoof beats of Arthur’s equine charger; and the Lady of the Lake (Sandra Huntsman), who gave Arthur his sword Excalibur and returns to, among other things, sing a quintessential Broadway duet with the king (“The Song That Goes Like This”) and headline a Vegas-style show, complete with her backup dancers, the Laker Girls. (Insert “ba-da-bum!” rim shot here.)

They join such memorable supporting characters as the seemingly invincible Black Knight, the sickly Not Dead Fred, the dreaded Knights who say “Ni!” — and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

“We’ve got the giant rabbit, we’ve got the cow over the wall,” Shelburne notes, citing just two of “Spamalot’s” obligatory comic creations.

Overall, “it’s a very hard show to weave your way through with all the scenes” required, he explains.

Especially on the Spring Mountain Ranch stage, which has no fly loft (to store scenery when it’s not being used) “and not much wing space” at the sides, Shelburne says.

Due to the storage space crunch, “we had to build out behind the theater and run pieces” on and off stage during the show, he notes.

Which seems perfectly in keeping with “Spamalot’s” zany, knockabout spirit — some, but not all, of which may be traced to its cinematic source.

“Obviously, when you’re using material that people are very familiar with,” meeting expectations is expected, Shelburne says. “But there’s a fine line” between satisfying audiences and making the show too connect-the-dots predictable, he suggests.

Balancing the two is “always an interesting challenge” — one Shelburne’s tackled more than once in his Super Summer career.

Last year, for example, he directed “Legally Blonde,” and “it did very well,” he recalls.

Much better, in fact, than what he expected after he read the novel that became “Legally Blonde” — and was utterly underwhelmed by the original book.

“I always go back to the source material,” Shelburne says. “And this year, I have the script I bought in 1979.”

Not that he needed to read it again to know that he already liked “Spamalot” — quite a lot.

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like