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A silly knight at the Craterian

Whether you've seen the 1975 British comedy "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" or not, "Spamalot" promises to be a hoot. The original 2005 Broadway production of "Spamalot," which ran for nearly four years, received three Tony Awards and 14 Tony Award nominations. According to its creators, the show is said to be "lovingly ripped-off" from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The musical takes its name from the line in the movie: "We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot."

"Just about anybody can find something to enjoy in this show whether you're a Python fan or not," says Adam Grabau, who plays the roles of Sir Lancelot, the French taunter, Tim the Enchanter and one of the knights who say "ni" in Phoenix Entertainment's production of "Spamalot."

The national touring company will present this spoof on the Arthurian legend at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

The film was written and performed by a British comedy group known as Monty Python, featuring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Together they created "Monty Python's Flying Circus," a television show that first aired on BBC in 1969. The film was adapted to a musical by Eric Idle, who collaborated with John Du Prez on the score.

"For those who don't get the Monty Python humor, there's plenty of humor to go around," says Grabau.

The musical overflows with crude jokes, cross-dressing, sexual references and profanity, "but because it's a bunch of smart British guys doing it, it seems a little less offensive," jokes Grabau.

"Spamalot" is an irreverent sendup of the Arthurian legend, complete with King Arthur, the knights of the round table, Excaliber and their quest for the Holy Grail.

"This is really just the framework for all the mayhem," comments Grabau.

In one scene, the knights and King Arthur arrive at a castle, where the Holy Grail is presumed to be. The royal party is greeted by a man, commonly known as the French taunter, who proceeds to hurl obscenities at them, including "I fart in your general direction" — an audience favorite.

The principle characters of the show are King Arthur (Steve McCoy), Lady of the Lake (Caroline Bowman), Sir Lancelot (Grabau), Sir Robin (Martin Glyer), Sir Bedevere (Matthew Ban) and Sir Galahad (Jacob Smith). The cast comprises 21 members, including a bevy of showgirls.

While most scenes feature the traditional medieval garb, there also are fairly modern costumes, suggestive of other periods, as well as several "downright ridiculous costumes," says Grabau.

The musical features the original choreography and score, including "The Song That Goes Like This" and "Find Your Grail," as well as "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," a song borrowed from the film "Monty Python's Life of Brian."

"Spamalot" comes with a sillier-than-thou set, which is quite impressive for a touring production, including a castle, wooden rabbit (comparable to the Greek's Trojan Horse) and a 45-pound flying cow. The infamous "killer bunny" and God also make appearances.

"It is a big celebration of silliness; that's the way I've always looked at it," says Grabau.

Tickets cost $50 to $68 and are available at the Craterian's box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., online at www.craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

King Arthur's servant Patsy (center) and an ensemble of knights sing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' in a scene from a past production of 'Spamalot.' - Photo by Scott Suchman