Spamalot Brings Gags and Giggles to Broadway

October 26, 2008

—the first Broadway show to sell Spam in its lobby—was one of the most anticipated openings on the Great White Way this season. The stage version of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is a spoof on the legend of King Arthur, debuted in NYC February 14 after a sold-out run in Chicago. Adding to the hype are the show’s stars: Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”).

With such a high-profile cast and a budget of over $11 million, how did first-time Broadway choreographer Casey Nicholaw land such a coveted gig? It helps that he’s passionate about the stage. “I grew up in musical theater and I love the craft,” he says. It also helps that famed Broadway choreographer Jerry Mitchell (whom Nicholaw had previously worked with) personally recommended him to Spamalot director Mike Nichols.

A full chorus performs the choreography that includes a mishmash of pop culture references, 42nd Street–style tap, and showgirl strutting. (Although the stars don’t dance much, Nicholaw was still responsible for their movement during musical numbers.) Spamalot called for choreography that fit the sketch-comedy feel of the production. “I’m proud when people laugh through the numbers. It means I did the job right,” explains Nicholaw.