McCain presents Monty Python’s ‘Spamalot’ musical


It is not often you find a human-killing rabbit, Vegas-like show tunes and the “lakers” girls combined with the tattered lifestyle and plague of the Middle Ages.

Yet this is exactly the show the audience got Thursday night at McCain Auditorium as they watched the hit theater performance of “Spamalot.”

The musical comedy, often referred to as being “lovingly ripped off” from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” filled every seat in the auditorium Thursday night to help McCain reach its third sold-out show of the season.

“It’s rare; it’s completely rare,” said Todd Holmberg, executive director of the auditorium, about selling out shows during the performance season.

And on a night when the No. 3-ranked men’s basketball team was playing at home, Holmberg couldn’t have been happier to see all 1,650 seats filled.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “It shows that there’s so much to do in our community, and the community supports the arts and academics and athletics. What more can you ask for?”

“Spamalot,” a 2005 Tony Award-winning musical, was written by Monty Python’s Eric Idle and features scenes from the 1975 “Holy Grail” movie. Audience members had the opportunity to see famous sketches, like the Knights who say Ni, the “I’m not dead yet” scene and the Black Knight’s “flesh wound,” acted out on stage.

Those not savvy about the Monty Python film might not have any idea what these sketches are about, and to explain it would make just as little sense.

For many who watched the show, that’s exactly what they like about it.

“I love it; it’s so funny. I like ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ the movie,” said Jenny Schmidt, freshman in communication sciences and disorders. “It’s the dry humor. It’s so funny.”

Others went into the show knowing some of it would go straight over their heads.

“We said we were going to laugh whether we got it or not,” joked Janice Reitz, president of the Friends of McCain Board of Directors, about the show’s ridiculous and often provocative humor.

While the musical revolves around King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they travel on a mission from God to find the Holy Grail, the period piece more often than not strays from its set time. Characters made references to Britney Spears, Broadway musicals from an undiscovered land across the sea and the fact that the relationship between Sir Lancelot and his man-sel in distress would still be controversial in 1,000 years.

The show, part of the 2010-11 McCain Performance Series, is meant to be ridiculous and push the envelope, and for Holmberg, it was the perfect event to bring to K-State and the community.

“I’m thrilled to see the city of Manhattan embraces this, because there was some thematic material that some people might have found offensive,” he said. “With the arts, that’s what you get, and I’m proud to be in a community where we can present this type of material.”

Audience members were excited that they could come to McCain not only for the opportunity to watch such a popular show, but to see it performed at a professional level.

“I think the level of production is very high; I’m totally pleased with that,” said Bob Clark, associate professor of French.

Manhattan resident David Scott agreed, saying he appreciates that McCain Auditorium has the chance to bring these types of show to the community on a regular basis.

“I’m pretty sure that there’s a serious regional audience for this. These are some of the best things that come to town,” Scott said. “We’re sort of a long way from, at best, a satellite on the cultural tour, so I think it’s great when things like this come around.”