MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT

You won’t be laughing nearly as hard this summer as audiences at 3-D Theatricals’ Broadway-caliber revival of Monty Python’s Spamalot, that is unless you happen to be among those SoCal theatergoers lucky enough to attend the musical’s back-to-back runs this month in Redondo Beach and Cerritos.

 Featuring an absolutely hilarious book by Eric Idle, sing-alongable songs by John Du Pres, Idle, and Neil Innes, and showcase roles for an octet of star performers, the 2005 Broadway musical adaptation of the 1975 cult movie classic Monty Python And The Holy Grail is quite literally in a class by itself.

Like the film from which it is “lovingly ripped off,” Spamalot takes us back to the days of King Arthur (Martin Kildare) and his quest for The Holy Grail, accompanied by the fabled Knights of the Round Table: Sir Bedevere (Tyler Stouffer), Sir Lancelot (Marc Ginsburg), Sir Robin (Jeff Skowron), and Sir Galahad (Nick Tubbs), and by his ever faithful, coconut-clopping servant Patsy (Erik Scott Romney).

Monty Python fans will get a special kick out of seeing brought to song-and-dance life many of the classic comedy sequences that have made “… And The Holy Grail” a hit for more than four decades, but you don’t have to have seen the movie to relish the terrifying-yet-hilarious Knights Who Say Ni (led by Knight Of Ni Ginsburg) or the Franglais insults launched on Arthur by an obnoxious “French Taunter” (Ginsburg) or Arthur’s battle with a Black Knight (Tubbs) who ends up about as limbless as a man can get without saying “uncle,” or the Knights’ ill-fated attempt to sneak into said castle using a Trojan Rabbit.

Added to these are musical numbers like “He Is Not Dead Yet,” sung by a particularly insistent Not Dead Fred (Daniel Dawson); “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” (borrowed from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian); and a pair of affectionate Mel Brooksian jabs, one at the Chosen People (“You Won’t Succeed on Broadway (If You Don’t Have Any Jews)” and the other at the Fabulous Ones (“His Name Is Lancelot”), the latter showcasing Sir Prance-a-lot  in Peter Allen mode.

New to the mix is the Cher-esque Lady Of The Lake (Chelle Denton), whose “The Song That Goes Like This” duet with Tubbs’s Galahad spoofs every Broadway power ballad ever written, as does “Find Your Grail” to every single rousing anthem ever sung on a Broadway stage. And speaking of show-stoppers, they don’t come any more show-stopping than “The Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened To My Part?).”

Carol Bentley’s long association with Spamalot makes her an ideal choice to recreate Mike Nichols’ Tony-nominated direction and Casey Nicholaw’s Tony-nominated choreography, the latter highlighted by the Jerome Robbins bottle-dance-spoofing “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway,” the Vegas-style “Knights Of The Round Table,” and the gayer-than-gay “His Name Is Lancelot.”

Other than Kildare (divinely droll as Camelot’s King Arthur) and Denton (a divaliciously show-stopping, rafters-reaching Lady Of The Lake), the entire cast play multiple roles each, and that includes Ginsburg’s catterpiller-about-to-turn-butterfly Lancelot, his saucy French Taunter, and his théâtre-de-l’absurdish Knight Of Ni; Skowron, once again vanishing masterfully into characters as comically diverse as the not-so-brave Sir Robin and the snootiest of palace guards; Tubbs, fabulously full-of-himself as a Prince Valiant-tressed Galahad and as a Black Knight who won’t let a missing limb or two or three or four get him down; Romney, as the most faithful and (as far as his master is concerned) invisible of sidekicks since Sancho Panza attended Don Quijote; and Stouffer as both a portly Sir Bevedere and the battleaxe peasant who gave birth to Sir Galahad, né Dennis, in signature Monty Python drag.

Last but not least, there’s Dawson giving his best-ever performance as (among others) a stuffy Historian, a hilariously Not Dead Fred, a flamboyant French Guard, and the girly-boylicious Prince Herbert.

 Song-and-dance dynamos Michelle Benton, Soleil Garcia, Leslie Miller, Adrian Mustain, Jane Papageorge, Dylan Pass, Rile Reavis, Mark C. Reis, Jean Schroeder, Erich Schroeder, Joe Stein, and Paul Stine dazzle throughout as Laker Girls, Knights, Monks, Nuns, Guards, Camelot Girls, Minstrels, and a village of Finns.

Spamalot looks absolutely spectacular thanks to Tim Hatley’s original Broadway sets and costumes and Elaine J. McCarthy’s Python-inspired original projection design, lit with accustomed panache by Jean-Yves Tessier, and it sounds just as great with musical director David Lamoureux at the baton and Julie Ferrin providing an expert sound design mix of vocals, instrumentals, and effects.

Billy Sprague, Jr. is associate director/choreographer. Wigs are by Peter Herman, prop design by Melanie Cavaness and Gretchen Morales, additional projection design by Andrew Nagy, and makeup design by Denice Paxton.

Nicole Wessell is production stage manager and David Jordan Nestor is assistant stage manager. Jene Roach is technical director.

Following 3-D Theatricals’ best-ever Oklahoma! revival, the myriad delights of Monty Python’s Spamalot make it the summer’s most rib-tickling musical comedy treat.

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Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 E. Manhattan Blvd., Redondo Beach. Through August 13. Friday at 8:00. Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00. Sunday at 2:00.
Cerritos Center For The Performing Arts, 12700 Center Ct Dr S, Cerritos. August 18 to 27. Fridays at 8:00. Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00. Sundays at 2:00. Also Thursday August 24 at 7:30.
www.3dtshows.org

–Steven Stanley
August 5, 2017
Photos: www.JesseAshton.com

 

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