An All-Star Cast Brings the Laughs in Kennedy Center’s “Spamalot”
May 8, 2023 @ 12:00pm
As part of The Kennedy Center’s Broadway Center Stage series, “Spamalot” is on this month, performed by an all-star cast.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is one of the most quotable films in history. Lines like, “I’m not dead yet!” “’Tis but a scratch” and “Help, help, I’m being repressed” are bandied about by fans of the cult 1975 classic.
Written by comedic geniuses Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, the film was translated into the Broadway musical “Spamalot” in 2005, once again spoofing the legendary tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they search for the Holy Grail.
As part of its Broadway Center Stage series, The Kennedy Center will present the uproarious, irreverent, Tony Award-winning show May 12-21, with an all-star cast directed by Josh Rhodes.
Alex Brightman, fresh off of Broadway’s “Beetlejuice,” takes on Sir Lancelot; Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart plays King Arthur; Broadway vet Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer plays the Lady of the Lake; and two-time Tony nominee Rob McClure is the Historian/Prince Herbert.
Other Broadway favorites include Michael Urie, Jimmy Smagula and Nik Walker.
Walker, who has graced the Broadway stage in “Hamilton” and “Ain’t Too Proud,” plays Sir Galahad, and is thrilled to be part of a show that includes a chorus line of knights, men in tights, killer rabbits and sexy dancing divas.
“My wife can quote Monty Python up and down, so I was very familiar with the movie, but had never seen ‘Spamalot,’” Walker says. “So I found a bootleg on YouTube and even with this terrible grainy video, it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. I loved how much they kept intact from the movie. What’s brilliant about Monty Python is they are writing these long-form sketches, and they can easily lift them and put them in a different context.”
For some reason, Walker feels he has been cast as vain people in the theatre, though he doesn’t feel he’s a vain person. But Sir Galahad (who starts off as lower-class mud gatherer Dennis) is one that definitely fits that description.
“Arthur pulls him into the Knights, and he is just extremely narcissistic, which is fun to play,” Walker says. “But I also play the Black Knight, who loses his limbs very quickly, and I play Herbert’s father, who has no problem killing his son.”
Walker has ties to many in the cast; he is writing partners with Brightman, is long-time friends with Kritzer and McClure and calls Iglehart his “big brother.” So, when the original casting notice came out with their names, he was texting with them all and wishing he could be a part of it. A week later, he was offered his part by Rhodes.
“I was very honored, but also very terrified, because these are some of the silliest people I know, and I didn’t know if we would get any work done,” Walker says.
Considering the time from rehearsal to stage was just a few weeks, that fear seemed justified.
“We’re in the early stages of rehearsal, but also close to the end stage, as we open really soon,” he says. “It really is this fast train. It’s very invigorating. We know a show is going to happen 18 days from now, and luckily, we have extremely talented people, and we come into every rehearsal with as much to play with as possible. It’s a really intense actor boot camp.”
As with any Broadway Center Stage show, “Spamalot” has a very limited run and tickets sell out fast. Theatre lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see so many Broadway luminaries on one stage.
“I’ve been doing theatre for almost 20 years, and this is a lighting-in-a-bottle production with an all-star cast,” Walker says. “It’s a dream team, so audiences need to see this magic when you put these people together. We’ll be laughing so we invite others to laugh with us, because it’s truly brilliant.”
To purchase tickets, which start at $69, visit kennedy-center.org.
The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
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