And it was all laughs on the red carpet. When Playbill asked Hamilton alum Taran Killam, who plays Lancelot in the show, about making his Broadway return, he responded with, "We get to honor the name of Broadway with a broad comedy. That's where Broadway comes from. That's probably not true. Don't don't fact-check me on that."
Spamalot has also allowed Killam to call upon his sketch comedy training from Saturday Night Live—in addition to Lancelot, Killam also three other roles which means multiple costume changes and the opportunity to ad-lib. "Having done SNL, you're doing something different every week. And in this show, I get to do something different every scene," enthuses Killam.
Nik Walker, who plays Sir Galahad and two other roles, agrees with Killam's assessment. The musical may be about King Arthur and his quest to find the holy grail, but it's also an absurdist comedy. "It's a big Broadway musical, but it's also just a collection of sketches, right? Like, there's no plot here, we are literally just doing what we need to do to make you laugh at any given moment." He then enthuses, "There's never been a night in my career that has fulfilled me more than this, and this show with these people." Walker's date to to the Spamalot opening night was a cardboard cutout of Matt Damon.
On the Spamalot red carpet, it was Playbill's turn to make them laugh. See below as we asked the cast of Spamalot and red carpet attendees to give us their most creative, and accurate, knight names. Were there some Knights Who Say "Ni!"? See below.
Spamalot is a stage adaptation of the 1975 comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was an absurdist take on the story of King Arthur (featuring a demonic bunny rabbit, the holy hand grenade, and the answer to the age-old question: "what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"). Eric Idle, who was a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, co-wrote Spamalot with composer John Du Prez. Together, the created hit songs for the show including, "Find Your Grail," "This Is the Song That Goes Like This," and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Spamalot first ran on Broadway in 2005 and won a Tony Award for Best Musical.
Even though it's a revival, Idle is still an active participant in the show. Besides going on late-night talk shows to promote Spamalot, Idle also puts his own spin on the classic, "turn off your cell phones" pre-show announcement.
Michael Urie, who plays Sir Robin, says Idle is the best pre-show announcer: "I think from the moment it starts, and you hear Eric Idle telling you to turn off your cell phones—the pre-show announcement gets laughs before we have to gets laughs. We start and I just feel the audience immediately."
When we told Idle about Urie's comments, he was visibly pleased, saying, "Well that's very nice." He then gave us some behind-the-scenes intel: "I was actually playing God [in the revival], but I got rid of me because I didn't like my performance. I thought I wasn't severe enough. So we have Steve Martin doing it, which is fun."
Besides Martin in an uncredited role, the cast is stacked with comedy all-stars. And on the red carpet, they all took turns complimenting each other. "Everybody in our cast is so damn funny," exclaims James Monroe Iglehart, who plays King Arthur. "So trying to keep it together is probably the hardest thing we've ever had to do. Everybody in our cast can stand flat footed on stage by themselves and make a whole audience laugh. You put us all together in one group, it's a dangerous combination. But it's the most fun combination."
Though just because they're comedy veterans doesn't mean the show is easy. Ethan Slater plays a jaw-dropping eight characters in Spamalot, and he admits that it's "scary" to do the show because he doesn't know if people will laugh. "You need to make big choices and it's a big choice to be small. Or it's a big choice to be big. Everything feels nerve-wracking. And then you just hope that people connect with it."
Urie says comedy has its own challenge because unlike in a drama, you have to take into account the audience. This is Urie's first time opening a Broadway musical but he's had his share of doing both comedy and dramatic plays. "In a comedy, the audience is 100 percent a character," he says. "I think comedy is hard because the second you push or pull the energy, they're gonna know...something's not right. And they're not gonna laugh at it. So you really have to be in sync with them. That's why I love doing theatre. It's fun to do funny things for the screen, but you don't know if anyone's gonna laugh."
For Christopher Fitzgerald, who plays King Arthur's squire, Patsy, he isn't nervous about getting laughs because Spamalot was so well-received the last time it was on Broadway. "It is a revival. And they took the big risk first. So we get to come in and enjoy the fruits of all that work—it already works and it's already so funny and so well crafted. So we can just jump in and just go for it."
See opening night bows in the video below and scroll on to read more from the red carpet.
But the show isn't just funny, it also has heart. On stage and off the stage, it's a story of a band of friends going on a quest, and keeping each other positive despite their setbacks. For Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, this heart makes it easier to keep things funny: "One of the hardest things is not expecting laughs, not playing the funny, playing the truth. People that I admire, comedians like Robin Williams—he came from a place of humanity and truth in all of his characters and that's why they were so funny. You never felt like he was trying too hard."
And one of the other essential messages of the show, and what helps propel the comedy, is that "life is quite absurd." Composer John Du Prez says that such a message is now more important than ever, "Life is pretty grim. Especially for people trying to pay rent and stay warm and buy food...I find it very reassuring and comforting to just to laugh and and realize there is a bright side to life and we should always look upon it."
One of that bright spots is a great cast putting on a good show. As director and choreographer Josh Rhodes puts it: "All you need is actors being funny, doing their thing and the audience is so pleased. You don't need anything else on stage."
Spamalot also stars Jimmy Smagula, David Josefsberg, Graham Stevens, Daniel Beeman, Maria Briggs, Gabriella Enriquez, Michael Fatica, Denis Lambert, Shina Ann Morris, Kaylee Olson, Kristin Piro, Drew Redington, Tyler Roberts, Anju Cloud, Darrell T. Joe, Lily Kaufmann, and Charlie Sutton.
The production features scenic and projection design by Paul Tate dePoo III, costume design by Jen Caprio, lighting design by Cory Pattak, sound design by Kai Harada and Haley Parcher, wig design by Tom Watson, and music direction by John Bell. Casting is by JZ Casting. Matthew Lacey serves as the production stage manager, and RCI Theatricals serves as general manager.