The cast of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” guarantees that, if you’ve seen the movie it’s based upon, you’ll have a great time. But that same guarantee applies if you’ve never seen the movie or even heard of the Python lore.


The cast of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” guarantees that, if you’ve seen the movie it’s based upon, you’ll have a great time. But that same guarantee applies if you’ve never seen the movie or even heard of the Python lore.
Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, will be in Oklahoma City for eight shows beginning Tuesday at the Civic Center Music Hall. Cast member Ben Davis, who plays three characters in this spoof of all spoofs, said it’s a show where no one is left out.
“I’ve heard it said that it would be fun to sit all the Monty Python fans on one side and all the other people on the other side and see what happens,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Knowing Monty Python is certainly a benefit, but it’s not at all essential. There are a lot of references that anyone will understand, and the show pokes fun at the musical genre.”
“Spamalot” is based on the 1975 movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” a British farce from John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. As in the movie, “Spamalot” is about King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail, but with lots of comical detours and stops along the away, including the transformation of Camelot into a Vegas-style palace with showgirls and knights. And in the style of newer musicals like “Urinetown,” “Spamalot” pokes fun at its own genre.
Davis plays three characters: Dennis Galahad, a politically active peasant (“I harvest mud, and when the king calls me, we debate about which type of government is best,” Davis said.); The Black Knight, who stands in the way of the king’s search for the Holy Grail, despite losing some crucial appendages; and Prince Herbert’s Father, a gruff, money-grubbing member of royalty.
Davis is on stage the entire first act, and the only time in the second act that he’s out of view is during quick costume changes. “Spamalot” is full of peppy sets and colorful costumes, and props are eclectic, including a cow that weighs 45 pounds and takes two stagehands to catapult over a castle. The heaviest piece of scenery, The Camelot Hanger, weighs 6,000 pounds.
Some parts of “Spamalot” cling closely to the movie, but other parts, because of the requirements of a musical, go in different directions, Davis said. Whether or not audiences are familiar with Monty Python, they will enjoy the show more if they pay close attention to its nuances.
“There’s a great deal of intelligence about it. It’s not all cerebral, but it’s very witty,” Davis said. “British humor is not so different from ours, but the British have a great facility for language that America has fallen away from a little.
“So much of our entertainment today is passive entertainment — you don’t have to listen. There is plenty of eye candy in this show with the sets and dancers, but to get what is available, you have to listen, which is kind of neat.”
“Spamalot” has plenty of original music, but there are well-known tunes, too, including “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and “Knights of the Round Table.” Musical strains from other popular Broadway shows also appear in ways that poke fun at the genre, Davis said.
Davis had seen “Spamalot” on Broadway before he earned a spot in the national tour, so he knew he was in for a treat, he said. He’s signed with the company through October, and he hopes he’ll continue beyond that, he said.
“I enjoy the people in the show, which is paramount,” he said. “They all take their jobs seriously, but not too seriously. The best part of it is being on stage with incredibly talented people. And there is nothing like knowing that, for two hours, you’ve made people laugh.”
Davis’ career also extends beyond musical theater comedy. He has been on Broadway in “Les Miserables,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “La boheme,” performed concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and appeared in the TV show “Numb3rs,” among other ventures.
Tickets to “Spamalot” can be purchased by calling (800) 869-1451 or 297-2264 or online at www.myticketoffice.com. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday, June 8.