Ziegfeld Theater Company invites Egyptian Theatre audiences on a quest for ‘Spamalot’
Three-weekend run opens Friday
Ziegfeld Theater is going on a quest for the Holy Grail and wants Park City to come along.
The Ogden-based theater company will open a three-weekend run of the musical comedy “Monty Python’s Spamalot” on Friday, Nov. 12, at the Egyptian Theatre.
The production, written by Eric Idle and John du Prez and based on the 1975 comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” comes full circle with the Park City dates, said Ziegfeld Theater Executive Director Eb Madson, who is also the director of “Spamalot.”
“We did ‘Spamalot’ eight years ago, and it was the first show we brought up to the Egyptian Theatre,” Madson said. “(In) a lot of ways it was the first show that put us on the map, and we’ve been waiting for the opportunity to do it again.”
“Spamalot” was planned for Ziegfeld’s 2020 season, but the company pushed it back to 2021 when the coronavirus pandemic hit Utah. The delay proved to be beneficial, according to Madson.
“I couldn’t be more happy with the production,” he said. “I’m biased, but it’s the most talented cast that we’ve had on our stage, and the show is incredible.”
Although “Spamalot” takes most of its cues from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” it also includes additional material from “Flying Circus” and the other Monty Python films, which added another challenge for the cast to take ownership of their production, Madson said.
“Anytime we do a production that is this iconic, I try to pay tribute to what came before,” he said. “We all know if we try to mess with things too much people get upset. So, I watched a lot of Monty Python and the cast and I talked about the rhythms and speech patterns that they use. We tried to make many homages, and added things that weren’t in the musical that are in the movie.”
While the script is important, the secret of making any show a success, especially a seemingly chaotic comedy like “Spamalot,” is putting together a cast that can encapsulate the characters, Madson said.
“One of the things that is great about our theater is that it sprung out of an improv troupe that I had cofounded in high school,” he said. “We ran that troupe for over a decade.”
When Madson began auditions, he was happy to work with returning cast members from Ziegfeld’s first “Spamalot” production, as well as others he had worked with in improv over the years.
“Being back in the same room with that set of artists was so much fun,” he said. “And this has been one of the easiest things that I’ve had to direct. I just said, ‘Go, play,’ and they said, ‘Yes.’”
The production is led by Caleb Parry, who wears the crown as King Arthur.
“King Arthur is a dream role for Caleb, and I was happy that he was the best person for the part,” Madson said. “When I talked with him about it, I told him that he is one character in the show who takes everything seriously, because in a lot of ways, Arthur is the straight man that we follow through this show, and that’s Caleb’s comedy to a T.”
Adding some sibling dynamics with Cameron and Quinn Kapetanov, who respectively portray Sir Galahad and Sir Robin, was another serendipitous ingredient for the production.
“On one side, we have Cameron who thinks about everything he does, and strives to make everything pin-point perfect,” Madson said. “Then you have Quinn who is a complete wildcard. You never know what he’s going to throw at you next. To have the two of them going back and forth on stage is magical.
“One of the things that I love about this show is that every night things are slightly different, because we have so many improvisers like Cameron and Quinn.”
One role that isn’t in the “Holy Grail” film but is essential in “Spamalot” is the Lady of the Lake, played by Ziegfeld regular Becky Jeanne Knowles, who is Ziegfeld’s production manager.
“Honestly, this role was made for her, and it’s almost like when the show was put together, the writers decided that the men would do all the silly bits, while the Lady of the Lake did all the hard-lifting singing,” Madson said. “It’s great to see all these comedic men having their fun, and then have Becky come in, bust their chops and bring the house down. She could be on Broadway doing this role, because she is so good at it.”
“Spamalot” is the second Ziegfeld production to hit the Egyptian Theatre this year after 18 months of a pandemic-induced dark stage. The first was “9 to 5,” which was directed by Knowles and starred Madson.
“The pandemic put things in perspective for a lot of us who weren’t able to perform for all of 2020,” he said. “It is such an honor to be on that stage again, and I couldn’t be more proud of the cast members and production team. I know they are putting all of their hearts and soul into the show, because they haven’t been able to do anything for more than a year.”
When: Nov. 12-27
Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
A Park Record intern spent three weeks in New York City thanks to a Columbia University program.
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