Arts | Seattle

Show and Tell: 'Spamalot' at 5th Avenue Theatre

If you're a Monty Python fan, don't miss, but mind the PG-13 rating

Spamalot, 5th Avenue Theatre

If you're a fan of Monty Python then Spamalot, a Tony-Award-winning musical playing at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre through May 2, is a must-see. If you want to share your enjoyment of Monty Python with your kids, well — if they're younger than 13 you may want to start somewhere else. There is some risqué content that isn't appropriate for younger audiences. More on that below.

Spamalot is based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and while it contains most of the great gags from the movie, the musical's narrative is quite different and large sections are wholly new. It does still focus on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail. There is discussion of the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow (African and European), peasants who don't recognize a king just because a watery tart threw a sword at him, and the Knights Who Say Ni!.


In addition to these classic bits the Lady of the Lake is a notable and welcome addition. Some of the new scenes from the second act, particularly "You Won't Succeed on Broadway (if you don't have any Jews)" and "His Name is Lancelot" demonstrate that, after almost 40 years of milking Monty Python's success (his joke), author Eric Idle is not afraid of dangerous comedy that pushes the boundaries of good taste as well as skewering stereotypes.

Parents should know

It's the new material in Spamalot that compels me to warn younger children away from it. Generally I wouldn't recommend Monty Python for kids under 10 because many of their best jokes work on an intellectual level beyond the slapstick and I want kids to get those jokes as well as the fish slapping. But my primary concern for kids with Spamalot is the bawdy sexual content in the new material. There are several points in the production where the women of the ensemble are scantily clad as the Lady of the Lake's "Laker girls," or Vegas showgirls, or they sometimes simply walk across the stage in lingerie to punctuate a joke in a song.

Lady of the Lake

Between this burlesque and some salty language I would rate this show PG-13 and recommend parents think twice about what their kids are ready for before bringing them along.

Standout performances

Having said that, I do want to emphasize the incredible quality of the 5th Avenue's production, which features the original sets and costumes from the Broadway production. Laura Griffith as the Lady of the Lake is a particular standout. Her several renditions of "The Song That Goes Like This" require an amazing vocal range and she sings it in a variety of styles where the singing itself is the joke. A lesser performer would not have been able to pull it off.

As Dennis and Sir Galahad, Louis Hobson is hilarious singing along with The Lady of the Lake. Greg McCormick Allen's rendition of Arthur's faithful servant Patsy, Matt Owen as the cowardly Sir Robin, Dane Stokinger as Sir Lancelot, and Joshua Carter as Prince Herbert all shine. As King Arthur, Allen Fitzpatrick has to carry the show, which he does with bombastic appeal. I could call out much more (including the many Seahawks and 12th Man references) but I don't want to give away too many of the jokes.

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