published Friday, January 27th, 2012

Arthurian legend goes comically awry in "Spamalot"

IF YOU GO

What: "Monty Python's Spamalot."

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.

Admission: $31.50-$56.50 (plus fees).

Phone: 642-8497.

Website: ChattanoogaOnStage.com.

This is not your grandfather's legend of King Arthur.

But Grandfather was a bit of a fuddy-duddy, anyway.

"Spamalot," the traveling Broadway musical that is "lovingly ripped off from the motion picture 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,'" is a silly, sideways look at the legend of Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

"It's important to laugh and escape," said Thomas DeMarcus, the Nashville-area native and University of Tennessee at Knoxville alumnus who plays a knight, a woman, a horse and the mayor of Finland in the production that stops at Memorial Auditorium on Thursday. "It's a clean, family-friendly show that appeals to a wide range of audiences."

The musical, taken from the 1974 movie made by the six-person British comedy troupe Monty Python and a wordplay on the classic Arthurian musical "Camelot," finds King Arthur and the boys on a search for the Holy Grail.

En route, they find Camelot, where there are showgirls and things look a lot like Las Vegas, as well as cows, killer rabbits and the French people.

People appreciate the movie so much, said DeMarcus, that they applaud once a character appears onstage because they know what's coming.

That, he said, is the mark of a "classic onstage [such] that, even if you're not a Monty Python fan, you can appreciate [its] cult, underground following."

Fans of the movie, according to DeMarcus, will find their favorite bits, including the coconut shell horses, the dead collector, the Black Knight and the knights who say Ni.

Monty Python fans also will recognize "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," a comedy song featured in the 1979 movie "Monty Python's Life of Brian."

DeMarcus said the show also has moments in which it parodies other Broadway shows such as "Fiddler on the Roof," "Man of La Mancha" and "West Side Story."

"This musical loves musicals," he said "but doesn't hesitate to mock them in a loving way."

BITS O' SPAM

* "Spamalot" uses about 40 coconuts per month, supplied by the Coconut King in Florida.

* Among the props is a cow that weighs 45 pounds and takes two stagehands to help catapult over the castle.

* It takes more than 80 people on and off stage to run each performance.

* The Lady of the Lake's costumes all are composed of hand-strung glass beads.

* There are more than 100 undergarments in the show, including 30 pairs of men's fishnets and 56 codpieces.

* There are more than 100 wigs (including facial hair) in the show, all hand-tied and made of human hair, yak hair and synthetics supplied from New York, California and London.

* The Electrics Department uses six tanks of liquid carbon dioxide per week to create a low-ground fog effect and uses eight fire extinguishers per week for the Feet of God "blastoff" effect.

* Six pounds of confetti are used at each performance.

* The Grail Lift that elevates the Lady of the Lake weighs more than 4,000 pounds and uses 2,600 pounds of hydraulic pressure.

* Three feet of "blood" has to be ironed before each performance.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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