Monty Python's SPAMALOT

Book & Lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez & Eric Idle
Directed by Bruce Jordan
Florida Studio Theatre's Gompertz
Coconut and Palm Aves., Sarasota, 941-366-9000
November 15, 2013 through January 11, 2014

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker


Spamalot takes off from the classic film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and puts on musical trappings that fit the stage of FST's Gompertz to a T (for terrific comedy).  Spamalot is both a parody and a send up of a parody that puts down theatrical versions of Arthurian legend. From the start everything goes wrong, with a historian pointing to medieval England and bringing on Dutch village dancers as its inhabitants. Somehow Arthur, who got his sword Excalibur and with it his kingship from The Lady of the Lake, is assigned the task of recovering the Holy Grail (shown atop the proscenium arch as if star of the show) but ends up with the task of staging a Broadway show. And how hard is that without any musical Jews?  What woes to dance a bottleoops, chalicedance about!


Besides Find Your Grail there are other challenges but....  Spammy songs do not eschew celebrating failures! For instance, I'm Not Dead Yet has a plague victim protest being carted off. A Black Knight frightens Sir Robin away from noble pursuits. But the villain gets his come-downance (of both arms and both legs) and has to give up shielding shrubbery from Arthur's knights, who can rejoice in song. And they do, often. They're especially tuneful in the show-stopping Always Look on the Bright Side, capturing the catchy philosopy of Arthur's Sancho-like companion Patsy. Too bad Arthur, who moans I'm Alone, fails to recognize his poor partner. Lucky for all on the quest that they're helped by The Lady of the Lake, who claims she's always looking out for them even when she's too often off-stage. (Her claim to the authors, Whatever Happened to My Part?, is hilarious.)  What other version of Arthurian legend could so smoothly unveil Lancelot's hidden sexuality, Galahad's goofiness, and Sir Belevedere's grumpy whatever?  What traditional characters get cheerleaders? Okay, maybe they're par for musicals.


An added search involves the audience, or at least, one member.  Could it be you? Would you have to sing and dance and be under a bright spotlight in a sprightly ensemble?  Fret not, fear not, whether Arthur finds the Grail with or without you! Meanwhile, you'll enjoy the hearty Patrick Noonan being a lively legendary King and pity Kevin Loreque's soulful Patsy until he becomes at least a half hero himself.  You'll cry for Danny Bernardy's Lancelot but laugh at his coming out. Bruce Warren's Sir Robin is a silly study in contrasts, as is every appearance of Jake Mills' Sir Bedevere.  Gil Brady illustrates the old (if memory serves correctly) moral that handsome is as handsome does and does he ever! The Lake delivers one beautifull-of-body-and-voice  Lady in the always stunningly dressed Priscilla Fernandez. Her choral cut-ups are Vera Samuels, Rachael Scarr, Heather Kopp, and Samantha Mills. When he's not seriously predicting  grail-hunting weather and traffic, Jacob Hoffman joins the outsize comic male ensemble of Craig Weiskerger, John Scacchetti, and Carl Michael Wilson.


John Franceschina shows why he's often a Music Director at FST, leading keyboarders Emily Croome and Johnathan C. Marro with drummer Tony Bruno. Choreographer Lori Leshner matches their musical versatility with her variety of dances (Dutch folk to chorus line) and characterizing movement. Every subversive moment endures in the scenery Jim Hunter designed and under Dave Upton's lighting. Marshall Simmons designed sound cleverly around scripted coconut clappings throughout. With costumes designed by Sarah Bertolozzi, ensemble members can portray extras from monks to would-be bloody Ni monsters, from busty and butt-shaking chorus gals to good water sprites. You'll find 2 hours of Grail-hunting not at all tiring, unless from laughing.


Kelly Karen is Production Stage Manager.

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