The sublime silliness of the Brit twits of Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-83) — Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin — is on display this week at the Durham Performing Arts Center in the form of Monty Python’s Spamalot. Phoenix Entertainment’s light-footed and lively national tour of the iconoclastic 2005 Broadway musical based on the gang’s classic big-screen comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) gleefully skewers chivalry by transforming the principal characters of the Arthurian legend into a bunch of clueless wankers flailing away at each other on the pestilent dung heap that was medieval England, circa 932 A.D.
Steve McCoy is delightfully droll as the Don Quixote-like King Arthur, galloping about the countryside on an imaginary horse and always tilting at figurative windmills, with his faithful companion and Foley artist Patsy (an impish Glenn Giron) clip-clopping at his heels. The self-proclaimed King of the Britons, creator of the Round Table, and founder of Camelot shifts into a higher gear when God (the recorded voice of John Cleese) commands him to find the Holy Grail (i.e., the common cup that Jesus and his disciples shared at the Last Supper).
Also keeping the DPAC audience in stitches are Adam Grabau as the vain and insufferably French Sir Lancelot, the unspeakably rude and crude French Taunter, the haughty Knight of Ni, and Tim the Enchanter; Jacob L. Smith as the handsome but somewhat dim Sir Dennis Galahad; Martin Glyer as the not-so-bold Sir Robin; John Garry as Not Dead Fred, a merry Nun, and the flamboyantly gay Prince Herbert; and Matt Ban as the brave but flagrantly flatulent Sir Bedevere, Sir Galahad’s crabby Mother, the bellicose Black Knight, and Prince Herbert’s homophobic Father.
Thomas DeMarcus is amusing as the tweedy Historian who narrates the action, but it is Caroline Bowman who flat out steals the show with her outrageous antics as The Lady of the Lake, Camelot’s resident diva with a capital D. Bowman turns “Come with Me” with the Laker Girls, her duet with Jacob Smith on “The Song That Goes Like This” and a couple of reprises, and especially “The Diva’s Lament” into showstoppers.
Tour director B.T. McNicholl and choreographer Scott Taylor put plenty of snap, crackle, and pop into their robust recreation of the Tony Award®-winning musical staging of Broadway director Mike Nichols and choreographer Casey Nicholaw. Tim Hatley’s whimsical storybook set (deftly downsized by James Kronzer) and lurid medieval costumes make Spamalot a feast for the eye; and conductor and pianist Kevin Casey, associate conductor and keyboard player Nolan Bonvouloir, trumpet players Andrew Hoesl and Emma Stanley, trombonist Alex Jenn, and French horn player Ami Fields provide energetic accompaniment and sound effects that help make Spamalot a must-see musical.
SECOND OPINION: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the May 23rd Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/05/monty-pythons-spamalot-pokes-fun-at-camelot-and-rudely-debunks-the-arthurian-legend/.
TICKETS: $36.50-$78.75 (including fees).
Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/927819.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/media.php.
The Tour: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/ (official website).
The Tour Cast: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/cast.php?section=235 (official web page).
The Tour Creative Team: http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/creators.php (official web page).
The Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Python_and_the_Holy_Grail (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071853/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.