BWW Reviews: SPAMALOT Entertains with Killer Rabbits, Taunting Frenchmen and Show-Stopping Musical Numbers

Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, Monty Python's SPAMALOTis the outrageous musical comedy lovingly ripped off from the 1975 film classic "Monty Python and The Holy Grail." The original cast recording of won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Based on the Tony Award-winning direction of Mike Nichols, with a book by Eric Idle and music and lyrics by the Grammy Award-winning team of Mr. Idle and John Du Prez, SPAMALOT tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in 932AD as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen and show-stopping musical numbers are just a few of the reasons audiences everywhere are eating up this production at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center through April 19.

The small stage production works beautifully thanks to the crisp and sharp direction by Sean P. Harrington with musical direction by Gary Poirot, cleverly comical choreography by Beck Castells, a wide array of farcical costumes designed by Ziona Goren, and a multi-level multi-media set designed by Chris Slack.

Triple-threat actor/singer/dancer John Dantona is a wonder in the pivotal role of Arthur. His energy is infectious, leading his knights heroically through verbal as well as physically battles (and dances) with a wide assortment of tormentors. Stephen Weston shines as Arthur's loyal sidekick and cocoanut shell horseman, Patsy, especially during their heartwarming rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" during their search for shrubbery to appease the Knights who say Ni. What a show-stopping number complete with tap dancing Knights under twirling umbrellas!

Powerful, dulcet-voiced Darienne Gross is Arthur's love interest, the Lady of the Lake, giver of his sword Excalibur, who displays the perfect diva attitude during her lament, "What Happened to My Part." After she transforms Dennis into Sir Galahad (Nicholas Herbst), their duet "The Song That Goes Like This" celebrates, as well as makes fun of, the love ballad in every show that ends with a kiss.

Sir Robin (Austin Miller) , a collector of plague victims, and Lance (Nick Ferguson), a large, handsome and incredibly violent man, meet as Lance attempts to dispose of the sickly Not Dead Fred (Julian Comeau) in "He Is Not Dead Yet). They agree to become Knights of the Round Table together, Lance for the fighting, and Robin for the singing and the dancing. Both actors bring such fun to their roles throughout the show, especially Miller during "Brave Sir Robin" and "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" followed by Ferguson's charming and so-relevant lifestyle duet with Prince Herbert.

The hard-working and forever costume changing ensemble is to be commended for their hilarious varied characters and enchanting dance numbers. From their Laker Girls and Moulin Rouge Can-Can Dancers, to their Las Vegas style showgirls, the four women in the ensemble brought a real sense of joy in performing for an audience every time they took the stage. And the four men were a riot, especially as the dead bodies, rude Frenchmen, Sleepy and Stupid guards commanded to guard Prince Herbert by his overbearing father, the head-bonking monks, their very harmonic Knights in "All for One' on the night when all Knights unite, and so many more!

Even though SPAMALOT takes jabs at every possible nationality and religion, the show's positive message rings true in the end. Everyone has their own Holy Grail to pursue in life and whatever it is for you, just go for it and always look on the bright side of life because things work out in the end. Kudos to the cast and crew for making this production work magnificently from start to finish!

Monty Python's SPAMALOT
April 13 - May 19, 2013
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 Los Angeles Avenue.
Simi Valley, California 93065
Catch it next weekend on Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 8:00 PM Saturday, May 18, 2013 @ 8:00 PM Sunday, May 19, 2013 @ 2:00 PM by calling the Box Office: (805) 583-7900
Tickets are $22 Adults, $18 Seniors & Students, and $16 Children 12 & under


Photos Credit: Brenda Goldstein

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Shari Barrett Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in local secondary schools, working in marketing for several studios, writing, directing, producing, and performing in productions for several non-profit theaters, Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as an independent publicist to "get the word out" about smaller theaters throughout the Los Angeles area. As a founding member of the LA Stage Alliance Leadership Council Task Force, she and reps from theaters throughout the city work together to articulate a vision for the theatre community of Greater Los Angeles. Shari has received recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her dedication of heart and hand to the needs of friends, neighbors and fellow members of society for her devotion of service to the people of Los Angeles. Shari is honored to serve her hometown as a contributor to Broadway World.

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