Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre really hams it up, or rather “Spams” it up, in its latest production, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” directed by Roger Welch.
The jaunty score of this Tony Award-winning musical by John Du Prez and Eric Idle only makes the trademark gags it incorporates from the 1975 British comedy film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” all the more saucy.
Christopher Moll’s action-packed choreography, complementary musical direction by Jim Ryan and the cast’s well-timed delivery of Python’s nonsensical comedic style keep laughter and amusement flowing throughout the show.
Following the general concept of the movie, the show parodies King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’s quest to locate the Holy Grail. It also retains many adored characters of the film, including the Knights Who Say Ni; the hilarious raspberry-blowing and trash-talking French castle guards; the resilient, limb-lacking Black Knight; and the cute and fluffy killer rabbit. And the knights still gallop along on their imaginary horses – clomping noises courtesy of King Arthur’s coconut shell-clanging servant, Patsy (Brian Demar Jones).
Rousing ensemble numbers include: “Fish Slapping Dance,” which involves Finnish townspeople slapping each other in the face with fish; “He is Not Dead Yet,” featuring an ensemble of plague-stricken corpses engaging in a Michael Jackson “Thriller”-like song and dance; the “Laker Girls Cheer,” executed by a squad of ultra-peppy water nymphs; and a toe-tapping rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
In the role of King Arthur, Eric Polani Jensen exhibits bold confidence and robust vocals. He and Jones pull off a side-splitting performance of the ballad “I’m All Alone.” Self-absorbed King Arthur’s woeful outcry of loneliness is pitted against mounting resentment from a befuddled Patsy, who has clearly been by the King’s side the entire time. The taken-for-granted servant scoffs: “He sells me down the river; what am I, chopped liver?”
Darcy Wright possesses the prima-donna attitude and vocal prowess essential to the role of the mermaid-esque Lady of the Lake. This is most notable in her drawn-out, operatic performances as a glamorous Vegas lounge singer in the Camelot scene and furious snarls for more stage time in “Diva’s Lament.”
Other standouts include Kurt Raimer as a grubby, cynical peasant transformed into the “dashingly” handsome Sir Dennis Galahad, bestowed with golden locks and ’80s rock star swagger; Dane Stokinger as the most chivalrous Sir Lancelot, the white knight on a mission to rescue the fair maiden – uh, well, maiden-looking male – Prince Herbert; and Christian Duhamel as the not-so “Brave Sir Robin.”
Set designer Cameron Anderson’s visual creations are impressive, from the giant feet and hand of God, and gigantic, Trojan horse-like rabbit, to the Camelot scene’s uncanny resemblance to Vegas’ Excalibur Casino.
In addition to using Python movie material, the show also spoofs on Broadway musical greats including the grandiose ballads of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (evident in “The Song that Goes Like This”), knights cha-cha-ing to the tune of “West Side Story’s” “America,” and various elements of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Producers.” Although many of these references went over the audience’s heads, their subdued laughter rose to guffaws during Duhamel’s “Funny Girl” and “Yentl” Streisand impressions.
This quality show is as highly entertaining as the national Broadway touring production that came to Spokane in 2009 starring “Seinfeld” actor John O’Hurley.
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