Thursday, March 17, 2005

NPR: : Spam-A-Lot

All Things Considered, March 4, 2005 ยท From the Knights Who Say "Ni" to killer rabbits with big pointy teeth, British comedy group Monty Python's Flying Circus established a new standard for absurdity on television in the 1960s and '70s.

The troupe's film Monty Python and the Holy Grail has inspired an almost cultish devotion -- generations of moviegoers can quote it, chapter and verse, and a recent survey in Britain rated it the No. 1 English film of all time.

Now, 30 years after the film first hit theaters, a splashy musical version comes to Broadway.

Monty Python's Spamalot -- with a reported budget of $12 million -- is the brainchild of Eric Idle, an original member of the six-man group.

In Spamalot, Idle has recast The Holy Grail's recasting of the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table for the Great White Way, with the addition of about a dozen new songs.

The show features music by composer John du Prez, and Mike Nichols directs a cast that includes Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce and Tim Curry.

Azaria was among those enthralled by the daffy charms of Holy Grail as a child. He recalls: "I remember being, like, 13 and getting a hold of some published script version of Monty Python and The Holy Grail and literally being thrown out of math class, 'cause we were memorizing it in the back row and giggling."

Spamalot enjoyed a successful run in Chicago and opens at New York City's Schubert Theatre on March 17.

Jeff Lunden talks with Idle about the show, singing dead people, "meta-comments" and Andrew Lloyd Webber.