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Spamalot’s surprise gay twists

What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot

Jay Hindle, Josh Epstein and Jonathan Winsby star in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. Credit: Arts Club Theatre Company/David Cooper

For many gay Monty Python fans, Michael Palin’s crossdressing antics as a lumberjack who likes to wear high heels will always hold a special place in their hearts.

And while it may not feature any plaid-clothed poofters with a fondness for “suspendies and a bra,” Monty Python’s Spamalot still manages to push the limits with a gay sensibility that not only pays homage to the group’s original sketches, but includes a surprising same-sex wedding.

This year’s summer indulgence from the Arts Club Theatre Company presents a skewed view of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table from the twisted mind of Python alumnus Eric Idle. 

Loosely based on — or “lovingly ripped off” as the advertising declares — from the motion picture Monty Python and The Holy Grail, this musical treat from some of the same people who helped make Spam a household word is sure to tickle the funny bones of both fans and those not familiar with the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Though some of the original Python troupe may have considered Spamalot “Python-light,” for Dean Paul Gibson, director of the Arts Club production, it is filled with much of what makes Monty Python so enduringly funny.

“It is a hilarious musical that borrows from the best of Python. Some of the original cast may have been dismissive of it, but when they found out how successful it was, they quickly changed their tune. They are making a ton of money,” he says with a laugh.

Part of the show’s success comes from reaching a new generation of Python fans and a spirit that encourages individuality, no matter who you might end up falling in love with and marrying.

At its core, Spamalot has a surprisingly powerful message that isn’t just about always looking on the bright side of life. “Under all of the ridiculousness, it reminds us to do whatever makes us happy,” Gibson says.