The Knights Who Say Ni. The plight of the Black Knight. The vicious rabbit of Caerbannog. Few comedies boast the iconic moments of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the beloved 1975 classic film. So Spamalot, the 2005 Broadway musical adapted/”lovingly ripped off” from the movie, already has an advantage with fans.
But people who have never seen Holy Grail can love Spamalot, said actor Steve McCoy, who is portraying King Arthur in the new national tour of the show. He should know— he didn’t really know Python before being cast in the musical.
“Not that I wasn’t a fan, I just didn’t know it,” McCoy said. “I remember my older cousins watching it when I was a kid and not understanding the humor. Because at the outset, it seems very sophomoric and silly, but it’s really very smart.”
McCoy and his fellow band of comedic knights will arrive in Toledo on Monday, November 12, for a performance at the Valentine Theatre. This is not McCoy’s first coconut-assisted horse ride, though: The theater veteran has played Arthur in a previous national tour of Spamalot.
“Before I started the [first] tour, I saw the original Broadway production. And I thought, oh my God, these people are so smart. Because the way they crafted the show, you don’t have to know anything about Monty Python to love the show and think it’s funny. But if you do, that’s even better.”
There’s an infectious joy to Python in all its forms, and McCoy said that feeling is shared by the show’s cast. “I can remember never, ever being in a bad mood, ever. Rehearsing the show, doing the show. And this is, like, my seventh national tour, and I have never been in a show that people like so much.”
Play it real
McCoy, who grew up in a suburb of Boston, knew after seeing a play in high school that he wanted to be an actor. His single mother saved money to take him to as many touring productions as she could. It was a particular thrill, then, to do a show like Spamalot that so deftly sends up so many Broadway classics during its runtime. “If we’re playing a city that is savvy enough to have gotten to see these shows, they’ll get it. We spoof Phantom of the Opera, we spoof West Side Story, we spoof all these things. And I think people all around the United States know those shows enough to find that funny.”
Another thrill was having a chance to work with the director of the original production, the famed Mike Nichols, who would visit rehearsals during McCoy’s first run of Spamalot.
“[He] would always come in and [say], The only way to do Monty Python material, is to have to play it for truth. You have to play it real, in order for the comedy to work.”
But no matter whether audiences are coming in as Python novices, or whether they know the bits well enough to recite them along with McCoy and his cast, the actor is certain people will leave Spamalot feeling simple, uncomplicated joy. “I hope they come out after two and a half hours happier than they walked in the door. I mean, I would bet money on it that they will. That’s what we get out of doing it.”
$79-$89 | 7:30pm | Monday, November 12
The Valentine Theatre, 410 Adams St.
419-242-2787 | valentinetheatre.com