The Road Company’s production of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT was an absolute riot! Side-splitting is defined as “convulsively uproarious.” That defines this production. Every song is amazing, and every sketch, hilarious… Dancers soar. Naturally, all this fun ends with a standing ovation. Theatre doesn’t get much better than this.
SPAMALOT, according to the program, is “a new musical, lovingly ripped from the 1975 motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” So? So, now it can be a different show every time it is performed!
In addition to generating a wide range of laughter, from smiles to knee-slapping, SPAMALOT audience members are applauding and cheering at every conceivable opportunity during this production. Even I can’t help it.
Director Lauri Hudson, armed with a fantastic vision and creative ideas from every resource, updated the content, creating even more comic moments, while putting all the parts together. Ruslan Odintsov, the music director, deserves credit for what amounts to a glorious soundtrack (if there could be one for The Road Company performances). Lighting Designer and Operator Steve Pracilio creates stunning special effects, turning costumes different colors and painting the walls with dollar signs. The sound of coconut clapping can’t (pronounced “kahnt”) be more exciting. Choreographer Kate Scharff has created complicated, rousing and “serious” dance numbers to complement each and every sketch—or so it seems. Seriously.
Hudson cast some amazing acting, singing and dancing talent “in SPAMALOT.” I nearly died laughing when a body, tossed on top of other bodies stacked on the plague wagon, cries out, “I’m still alive.” That is the voice of “Not Dead Fred” played by John De Groot. When he’s “Not Dead Fred” and is playing “Prince Herbert” he’s light as a fairy flipping and somersaulting his way around the stage with his phenomenal dance and acrobatic antics. He’s also the Historian. Go figure.
John Baccaro is excellent as the dimwitted royal pain, “King Arthur,” prancing around on his invisible horse trying to get back to England. His majesty represents the ultimate in the upper class with boundless dignity. He has a great voice and knows how to use it. His sidekick, Ethan Rundell, makes the perfect “Patsy.” Rundell and Baccaro seem to have great acting chemistry. Lani Campagno as the “Lady of the Lake” is worshipped from afar for her beautiful voice and stage presence. As the “diva” Lady of the Lake, she steals the show for a little while.
Eric Idle, who wrote the book and some of the lyrics with his music partner, John Du Prez, have fun with life in medieval Europe, class distinctions, and attitudes about such things as sexual orientation. They are poking fun at their own heritage, history and society when they present the Arthurian legends and stories about knights and devils slanted to tell a different story, making them live in today’s world for us. Their version of Camelot looks a lot like Las Vegas.
SPAMALOT is more than a script and individual performances. There is an extensive and “expensive” forest of two trees and a green-colored backdrop of dollar signs, a talk with a frustrated “god” who appears out of the sky and tells Arthur and his knights to find the Holy Grail, the King’s sword fights with the Black Knight and with others impeding his way, etc.
Spoiler alert. There are dark comedic moments, too: a knight is decapitated and another is maimed. Not to worry, there is perfect comic timing to make these gruesome acts hysterical.
I am probably the only adult in the world that has never seen a Monty Python film or sketch–anything in its entirety until tonight. I experienced Monty Python’s SPAMALOT in Williamstown so I’m good now. I still hate Spam, but I love SPAMALOT. My son and I will gladly come back and see it again with my wife and daughter in tow. Theatre-goers who don’t consider themselves Monty Python fans will have to suck it up and have a good time.
The most difficult part of SPAMALOT is to keep from laughing. This, of course, has nothing and everything to do with the show. Kudos goes out to those performing members of the company who can, in SPAMALOT’s most hysterical moments, maintain a straight face on stage. It’s nearly impossible for audience members to quell the urge to laugh incessantly. You’re sure to catch the pleasant urge to laugh and won’t be able to stop it once it starts during this show, but don’t fight urge. Then you laugh. Your laughter is infectious and contagious. Not to worry. It’s an appropriate time and place. And, you’re welcome.
The Road Company’s production of SPAMALOT is one musical comedy that’s ripe for fun nearly 50 years later. Don’t miss it.
Monty Python’s SPAMALOT
Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle
Directed by Lauri Hudson
at the Grand Theater
January 16 – February 1, 2014
Thursdays at 7:00 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 2:00 pm
The Road Company Theater Group, Inc.
405 S. Main Street
Williamstown, NJ 08094