Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Spamalot - Broadway

The Broadway revival of Spamalot, is good-natured fun, provoking a steady stream of titters, cackles, and guffaws from audience members.  While the production loses its steam by show’s end, it still provides a generous dollop of pizazz and show business know how.

Based on the film, The Holy Grail, by the British comedic troupe, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the show is part book musical and part Las Vegas revue, courtesy of original Python member Eric Idle who co-wrote the score (with lyrics by John Du Prez) and its libretto. 
The story revolves around King Arthur’s search for individuals to join the Knights of the Roundtable and then shifts to their quest to find The Holy Grail.  Idle made sure to include memorable, fan favorite bits from the movie including the taunting French soldier and the Trojan Rabbit, the Knights Who Say “Ni!,” the deranged Black Knight, and the killer rabbit.  He also added a character not from the film, the Lady of the Lake (Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer).  Her link to the shenanigans is based solely on how she bestowed to Arthur his enchanted sword.  Otherwise, in a very amusing, scenery-chewing performance, Ms. Kritzer resurfaces every so often to moan and complain about her role in the show.
The cast is filled with seasoned comic performers.  They include Christopher Fitzgerald as King Arthur’s manservant, Patsy; Tara Killam as the macho Sir Lancelot; Ethan Slater in a variety of quirky, humorous roles; Jimmy Smagula as the bumbling Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as the perpetually frightened Sir Robin; and Nik Walker as the self-centered Sir Galahad.  James Monroe Inglehart, stoic and straightforward as King Arthur, is the glue that holds the production together.  His forthright portrayal keeps the show on task.
The score by Eric Idle and John Du Prez is full of fun-filled tunes including the silly “I Am Not Dead Yet;” the hyper-emoting of “The Song That Goes Like This;” the sweetly melodic “Always Look at the Bright Side of Life;” and the big production number, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway.”  While not the most sophisticated group of songs, many stay with you long after you leave the theater.
Director/Choreographer Josh Rhodes allows his acting troupe a wide berth as they delve into their comedic roles. Scenes are performed with precision and never overstay their welcome.  He incorporates some wild choreographic numbers including “Knights of the Round Table” and “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway.”  My only complaint by the latter song is Rhodes tries to milk it a tad too much. 
The Scenic Design by Paul Tate DePoo III is whimsical and varied.  His towering projections, in the style of Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, also pay homage to the film.  Cory Pattak provides a flashy Lighting Design.  The Costume Designs by Jen Caprio are imaginative and playful. 
Spamalot, yucking it up for a new generation of Python (and not so Python) enthusiasts at the St. James Theater.

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