It cannot be easy playing the straight man in “Spamalot.”
In the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre production of the Tony-winning musical comedy, that task falls to Eric Jensen as he assumes the role of Arthur, King of the Britons.
“It’s hard, but it’s really rewarding,” Jensen said. “We have so many wonderful, talented comedians, it’s a joy to just be able to sit there and give them stage and space and try to keep a straight face.”
In this Tony-winning musical comedy, Arthur leads his band of merry knights – Robin, Lancelot, Galahad and Bedevere – on a quest through the early Middle Ages to find the Holy Grail. Along the way, they encounter the Lady of Lake, Tim the Enchanter, the Knights who say Ni, the French taunter, the Black Knight and a very nasty rabbit.
Eric Idle, a member of the Monty Pyton comedy troupe, adapted – or lovingly ripped off, as he puts it – the 1975 movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Director Roger Welch said the decision to stage “Spamalot” was an easy one. He said he has never laughed so hard as when he saw the play a few years ago in London.
“If you’re a Monty Python fan, you’ll love it,” Welch said, later adding, “Even if you’re not a Monty Python fan, there’s so much in this show. There are big dance numbers, there’s a flying effect. If you like musical theater and you don’t like Monty Python, I can almost guarantee you’ll like this, too.”
For Jensen, what strikes him is that there is a message in the madness of “Spamalot.” In “Find Your Grail,” for example, the characters are reminded that, “Life is really up to you/You must choose what to pursue.”
“After all the insanity and the fart jokes and the throwing cows, there’s still a point about the importance of life,” he said.