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Cygnet Theatre Serves Up ‘Spamalot,’ There’s Not Much Spam In That

Eric Idle’s Monty Python inspired musical gets reimagined for intimate venue

Photo caption: Cygnet Theatre artistic director Sean Murray (center) leads the cast of "Spam...

Photo credit: Cygnet Theatre

Cygnet Theatre artistic director Sean Murray (center) leads the cast of "Spamalot" as King Arthur. He also directs the play.

GUESTS:

Sean Murray, "Spamalot" director and actor

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Transcript

Companion viewing

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975)

"The Rutles" (1978)

"Life of Brian" (1979)

Monty Python won a cult following with its "Flying Circus" TV show and its films "The Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian." Then came the musical "Spamalot" created by troupe member Eric Idle. Sean Murray talks about staging the Broadway show for Cygnet Theatre.

Eric Idle’s "Spamalot" distills the best of Monty Python into one show. The main through line is from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table searching for the Holy Grail. But you will also find skits from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and things such as "The Bright Side of Life" from "Life of Brian."

Cygnet Theatre’s artistic director Sean Murray had the chance to play King Arthur in Moonlight Stage's production back in 2014. But this year Murray wanted to direct a production of "Spamalot" himself but knew he’d have to make adjustments for his more intimate venue. He knew he couldn’t have castles and people flying in, but he could play up the sketch comedy.

So he teamed with his design crew to come up with a new look for the play.

"We started looking at it like a children’s pop-up book, a fairy tale pop-up book," Murray said. "We decided everything needed to be two-dimensional, flat painted so it feels like a children’s book. There were numerous places where I really wanted to bring little castles on stage instead of big castles and that sort of evolved into a language where — there’s sort of a deep subplot in our production of trying to fit this big show into a small space, a little bit aware of ourselves doing it."

But the world of Python invites that kind of creativity.

You can catch Murray as King Arthur in "Spamalot" through Aug. 12 at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. There’s not much spam in that.

Monty Python won a cult following with its "Flying Circus" TV show and its films "The Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian." Then came the musical "Spamalot" created by troupe member Eric Idle. Sean Murray talks about staging the Broadway show for Cygnet Theatre.

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