Ziegfeld Theatre leads ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ to the Egyptian Theatre
November 20, 2013
When Ogden-based Ziegfeld Theatre Company opened its 2013-14 season with "Monty Python’s Spamalot," artistic director Rick Rea knew it was going to be a rewarding experience, but a logistical challenge.
The Tony Award-winning musical, which is based on the dry and sometimes over-the-top humor of the 1975 film, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," is a major technical project, and Rea knew the company couldn’t reproduce the Broadway show.
So Ziegfeld Theatre Company brought in local set designer named Dennis Ferrin, who is known throughout Utah for his work.
"Dennis looked at our space and created a set that not only looked fantastic, but was also manageable for a grass-roots company," Rea said. "Doing a production like ‘Spamalot’ is not about adjustment. You have to start with the space and work from there. And when you see our production, you will see that it’s not compromised in any way."
The Ziegfeld Theatre Company will present "Monty Python’s Spamalot" at the Egyptian Theatre on Nov. 22-24 and Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
"The Ziegfeld Theater stage is really close to the dimensions of the Egyptian Theatre," Rea said. "When you see our production, you will see that it’s not compromised in any way."
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The musical originally premiered on Broadway in 2005 and won three Tony Awards including Best Musical.
The production was written by composer John Du Prez and Monty Python collaborators Eric Idle and Neil Innes.
While it does take some of its scenes directly from the film, it’s a whole different product, said Rea.
"Yes, there are moments that are taken right from the film, but sometimes, the best parts of the stage version is what they created especially for the Broadway production," he said. "What’s so great about this is that the production takes on the heart and humor of Monty Python, and the general story, and did it that way."
The story follows King Arthur on his quest for the Holy Grail and he meets up with an array of colorful characters including the Nights that Say "Ni" and the Black Knight.
"If you like ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ you’re in for a treat, but if you’re not that familiar with Monty Python and into it, but love musical theater, this will appeal to you," Rea said.
The goal of the Ziegfeld Theatre Company, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, is to present theater that may not be performed by other local companies.
"We wanted to do a season that reflects the values of the many types of patrons in the Utah theater community," Rea said. "We do family shows and some hard-hitting shows as well, and we wanted to do a fun musical."
"Spamalot" became that production.
"Many of our board members saw the musical on Broadway or in Salt Lake when it came a couple of years ago," Rea said. "It was a production that was close to our heart and it was well received when we kicked off our season."
The other reason the company chose "Spamalot" was because it appeals to people who are atypical musical theater goers.
"Doing something like ‘Spamalot’ was a big risk in a lot of ways, but it was an attractive risk for us," Rea said. "It gave us a chance to let our community know that we will appeal to our patrons, whom we love, but at the same time, it shows that we are willing to expand and those who aren’t familiar with theater, but are excited to see something that appealed to their sense of humor."
In order to relay that style, Rea contacted director Trent Cox to helm the production.
"Trent was the first person who came to mind when we decided to do ‘Spamalot,’" Rea said. "His understanding of comedy and understanding of working with a large company seemed like the right fit for us.
"He also has a nostalgia for Monty Python all his life and understood that niche and helped bring out the actors’ charm and humor," Rea explained. "When people see the production, they will see a unique production that honors the original."
The Ziegfeld Theatre Company from Ogden will present "Monty Python’s Spamalot" at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., Nov. 22-24 and Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. The performances on Fridays and Saturdays will begin at 8 p.m. and the two Sunday performances will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $23 to $40 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.