BWW Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Rodey Theater, UNM
I don't know about you, but I rarely go to a musical in a bad mood. But I was in a bit of a bad mood when I arrived for the Sunday matinee of Spamalot this weekend - my kids were bickering, my husband was trying to manage my driving on the way to Albuquerque, I was exhausted from my week at my real job - so what a delight to sit down at the lovely Rodey Theater and have a completely fun and frothy afternoon with Landmark Musicals' production of Spamalot.
Spamalot is based on the work of the seminal British comedy troupe Monty Python - the comedy is unapologetically bawdy, broad and over the top, which lends itself to musical comedy perfectly. The plot revolves around King Arthur roaming the countryside looking for knights for his Roundtable. Along the way he meets a variety of knight candidates, the Lady of the Lake, the Knights who say NI! and various other woodland dwellers. William Lang is a great King Arthur - his regal carriage is consistent throughout, even when tasked with some of the silliest stage business (riding an imaginary horse to the clip clop of a coconut, for example) ever choreographed. His voice is strong and he commands the stage. His knights are equally goofy and entertaining, with star turns for Max Woltman (Sir Robin) and Jack Litherland (Sir Galahad). The camaraderie of the knights is well played, and each knight has a distinct personality.
The real standout in this production, though, has to be Courtney Awe as the Lady of the Lake. Awe has a fantastic voice and great comedic timing - she also fully immersed in this character and commands attention - the audience can't take their eyes off her whenever she is onstage. This makes her act two song, "The Diva's Lament," all the more hilarious, as it starts with the line "Whatever happened to my part?" and continues to complain about the lack of stage time given to her in act two. Her act one song with Arthur, "The Song that Goes Like This," is also a big highlight of the production.
The set, while a little clunky at times in transition, works well and is quite beautifully painted. The costumes are spectacular - Emily Melville has done a fantastic job with what looks like a sizeable budget onstage. Courtney and Louis Gianinni's choreography is really crisp and the dancers in the chorus are highly skilled and infinitely watchable. The orchestra is excellent, albeit a little loud at times - I would have liked some more nuances and less blast.
Monty Python fans will not be disappointed as the production includes the Python standards"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and "Knights of the Round Table," as well as songs based on sketches such as "I Am Not Yet Dead." The Python fans in front of my were so excited whenever one of these little Easter eggs would pop up in the show.
All in all, this production is a really fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. The show is a treat for the entire family. UNM needs to put Rodey to use more often - it's a lovely theater, maybe the prettiest space in Albuquerque!
Spamalot runs July 20 - August 4 at UNM's Rodey Theater. Call the UNM Box Office at (505) 925-5858 for tickets or go to landmarkmusicals.org.