By Rod Stafford Hagwood
6:12 PM EST, January 22, 2013
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” is returning to Fort Lauderdale for a brief two-fer.
Friday and Saturday only, the parody of the King Arthur legend and skewer of all things Broadway will play the Broward Center.
As the production is fond of saying, the show is “lovingly ripped-off” from the famed British comedy teams’ most popular film, 1975’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (with just a touch – “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” – from their 1979 movie “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”).
Adam Grabau has been with the road tour of the tune-fest for three years playing Sir Lancelot, The French taunter, King Ni and Tim the Enchanter in the Tony Award-winning musical. I caught up with him just before a one-night-only performance in college town Pembroke, North Carolina:
Q: I don’t think people realize just how popular “Spamalot” is. Except for last year it’s been touring constantly since 2006. And there were productions in Las Vegas, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary. Millions have seen this show. Why do you think that is?
A: "It’s just a thing - particularly in Western culture - this Monty Python phenomenon, which has been holding on strong since the 70s. In the States and Canada it is such a cult favorite. I think its success world-wide it’s just because laughter is universal. Even if you’ve never seen the movie or have any idea of what Monty Python is, you can still appreciate the show and its downright silliness."
Q: I always tell my girlfriends that if they want to take their boyfriends or husbands to a Broadway show, make it “Jersey Boys” or “Spamalot.” They always come back and tell me I was right. Have you heard that?
A: "Oh yeah, I think so. I think that is a big part of the success too. It’s so uncommon and so unorthodox for something on Broadway. It’s so madcap and just not your typical Broadway show."
Q: Three years is a long time to be with one show. What would Adam today tell Adam from three years ago?
A: "I would tell him to hold on it’s going to be quite a ride. I don’t think I’ve had any truly bad experiences touring with this show. Life on the road can be hard; long hours, early mornings. But this show is the saving grace of touring. It gets such a great response everywhere you take it. It’s been a blast for three years."
Q: You play so many roles in the show. Is it tricky dealing with all of those complicated costumes?
A: "It’s a very costume-heavy show. A lot of the stuff is pretty dense. Most of the knight costumes involve a body glove layered underneath. And then there’s – it’s not actual chain mail, but it looks like it – this heavily-braided nylon cord. Then we have these three layers…it’s a tunic kind of thing that all the knights in the show have a lot of so that the average knight costume weighs 10 or 15 pounds. The Knights Who Say Ni – altogether with the stilts and the costumes – they are wearing 30 pounds or so. The helmet is like nine feet tall. It’s a very, very elaborate show.”
IF YOU GO:
“Monty Python’s Spamalot”
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26
Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale
Cost: $25 to $65
Contact: 954-462-0222 or BrowardCenter.org
By The Numbers:
“Spamalot” uses 40 wireless microphones, consumes over 2500 AAA batteries per month, runs over 1 mile of cable and uses custom built lasers to aim the speakers in each house.
Among the props is a cow that weighs 45 pounds and it takes two stagehands to catapult it over the castle.
Spamalot uses approximately 40 coconuts per month, supplied by the Coconut King in Hobe Sound, Florida.
The Show Portal weighs 2800 pounds.
The heaviest piece of scenery, The Camelot Hanger, weighs in at 6000 pounds.
The “Feet of God” is the heaviest piece manually flown in, weighing 1700 pounds.
The Grail Lift that elevates the Lady of the Lake weighs over 4000 pounds and uses 2600 pounds of hydraulic pressure.
It takes over 80 people on stage and off to run each performance.
The Electrics Department uses 6 tanks of liquid carbon dioxide per week to create the low-ground fog effect and uses 8 fire extinguishers per week for the Feet of God “blast off” effect.
6 pounds of confetti are used at each performance.
The orchestra uses a Spama-horn, an instrument specially developed for and used only in Spamalot.
There are over 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 mud make-up is a formula specially designed for Spamalot.
The poorest peasants’ costumes in the show are actually made of raw silk.
3 feet of “blood” has to be ironed prior to each performance.
There are over 100 undergarments in the show, including 30 pairs of men’s fishnets and 56 cod pieces.
The Lady of the Lake’s costumes are all comprised of hand-strung glass beads.
The costumes are not only made of a wide variety of fabrics, but many are made of molded ABS plastics, and even nuts and bolts. You are as likely to see a costumer with power tools as you are a sewing machine.
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