Spamalot – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
*Disclaimer: the reviewer’s son is in the cast.
Monty Python’s Spamalot, now on stage at Huron Country Playhouse, bears the warning “irreverent adult content”. Here’s the good news: the irreverence is based on equality: the ridicule reaches out to all people and institutions on an equal basis, so no one can take particular offence. The show makes fun of Royals, the English, the Finns, the French, Gays and Jews, and yes; there is a poke at Christians, too. It takes shots at ancient legends, traditions, religion, Las Vegas and Broadway. There is no respect shown for anything or anyone, and I have never heard so much laughter in a theatre!
A spoof on the Arthurian legend, Spamalot is “lovingly ripped-off” from the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Spamalot is the foil of Camelot, which Huron Country Playhouse produced in 2009.
This hilarious show is well-polished. Director Alex Mustakas has assembled a stellar cast, all of whom have perfect comedic timing. Cast members must have been selected based their Monty Python sense of humour. Then Mustakas managed to purchase sets and costumes from the Broadway tour of Spamalot. There are so many amazing costumes and wigs: eight cast members create more than 25 characters, and the eight ensemble members have numerous changes. It’s hard to believe that so many different characters are created by just 16 people. From the colourful dancing Finns to the drab corpses on the dead wagon, every costume is perfect.
The sets are marvellous, too. From the castle parapets to the hand-grenade explosion, from the huge Holy Grail to the squeaky giant wooden rabbit, every detail is covered. Even the Monty Python animated projections are hilarious.
Victor Young, veteran of Canadian stage, is perfect as King Arthur. He’ll be remembered for his portrayal of Mr. Biggley in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and as Daddy Warbucks in Annie, but in Spamalot his combination of kingly arrogance and silly gullibility really shows his penchant for comedy.
Arthur’s trusty sidekick, Patsy, (still not sure if he is horse or man), is played by the coconut clopping Nick Settimi. Settimi’s response to Arthur’s song “I’m All Alone” is hysterical.
Kristen Peace is perfect as The Lady of the Lake, her powerful voice is ideal for belting the big show-stopping numbers. She is hilarious in her duet with Galahad, “The Song That Goes Like This”, and even funnier with “The Diva’s Lament (Whatever happened to my part?)”.
Eddie Glen shows his comedic genius as Sir Robin, the Finnish Mayor, the Guard and Brother Maynard, but he really shines as the French Taunter. Roars of laughter fill the theatre when Glen mocks the Knights in his outrageous French accent.
Stephen Patterson keeps everyone laughing as Dennis/Sir Galahad who goes through an amazing transformation. He is also Herbert’s Father and the Black Knight, who loses his arms and legs to Arthur’s sword Excalibur, calling it “but a scratch” and “flesh wounds.” Patterson’s comedic timing is always perfect and his loss of limbs hilarious.
Thomas Alderson handles many roles with quick changes: He is the Historian, Not Dead Fred, a Laker Girl, Flying Nun, a French Taunter, the Minstrel, the Rabbit and Prince Herbert. Suffice it to say, he is hilarious in all roles, but he is particularly funny as the corpse who clings to life, the persistent singing minstrel, and Herbert locked away in the tower.
The eight ensemble members sing and dance their way throughout the show, playing a multitude of different characters, all adding to the comedy. All the ensemble members have long lists of excellent credentials in their bios, completing this superior cast.
I would like to say that this is two hours of good clean fun, but then I remembered the jokes about flatulence and the scantily clad Vegas show girls – so I guess it’s a couple of hours of good, dirty fun! If the opening night audience’s quick standing ovation is any indication, this crazy comedy is a real crowd-pleaser. This show is fast moving with frequent laughs throughout the dialogue: it is easy to miss some of the wackiness. It’s the kind of show you need to see twice to catch all the jokes and see all the action. Don’t miss it: it’s laugh-out-loud silly!
Spamalot continues with eight shows a week until July 13 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com then at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse until August 3. Call Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.draytonentertainment.com
Book & lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez & Eric Idle
Directed by Alex Mustakas
Choreographed by Lisa Stevens
Musical direction by Steve Thomas
Performed by Thomas Alderson, Robert Allan, Carla Bennett, Rachel Clark, Aidan deSalaiz, Eddie Glen, Dani Jazzar, Stephen Patterson, Kristen Peace, Nick Settimi, Joel Taylor, Michelle Tracz, Mike Tracz, Mark Uhre, Sarah Vance, Victor A. Young.
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend – June 28 to July 13, 2013
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs – July 17 to August 3, 2013
Reviewed by Mary Alderson