Black, who is the theater director at Marblehead High School and vice president of the board of directors for Marblehead Little Theatre, said the exploration of character is one area in which the musical improves on the movie.
“There’s a real person in there somewhere, and their unyielding commitment to be that person — that unyielding commitment to, ‘I know what I’m looking for, and no one’s going to make it otherwise.’ — for these knights, that’s to find this grail and find meaning in life,” he said.
“The ways they go about finding that and the obstacles on their journey — that makes it hilarious.”
King Arthur is to some degree an exception, a sensible man who at first treats the other knights, and the creatures and characters they encounter, as if they were reasonable, too.
“He’s the straight man to all of the fabulous jokes and bits,” said Bobby Kerrigan, who plays the king, a man of honor but with a loony streak that he can’t hide.
In one of Monty Python’s most famous devices, Arthur relies on his servant, Patsy — played by Bobby Imperato — to bang coconuts together to make the sound of horses’ hooves, while he holds an imaginary bridle and pretends to ride. At one point Arthur extends this ruse to an even more ridiculous degree.
“We have four or five tap dancers,” said Kerrigan, who lives in Wenham. “In one funny part, King Arthur tap dances with them, but it’s just Patsy clicking the coconuts, and I just point to my feet.”
One of Marblehead Little Theatre’s creative touches was to stage publicity photos on the grounds of Hammond Castle. They also borrowed swords, shields, an axe and helmets from the castle to decorate the lobby at the Aldrich Performance Center and to help get audiences in the mood for the play.