BWW Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Hershey Theatre
If the Tony's gave out an award for "Best Musical featuring a Trojan Rabbit", then Monty Python's Spamalot would win hands down. It is among the silliest shows of all time, and landed at the Hershey Theater last night. Based on the cult classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot features King Arthur, The Knights of Camelot, the Lady of the Lake, galloping coconuts, and a quest for shrubbery.
Almost all of the iconic scenes from the film are featured. They bring out the dead, bicker with the French, and battle the Black Knight. These scenes are handled in a way that both brings homage to the original, yet adds an additional dose of theatricality and creativity to the recipe.
Based on your level of familiarity with Monty Python, you are now probably either chuckling or scratching your head. Fear not, you can fully enjoy this show without having an encyclopedic knowledge of the comedy troupe. What matters more is an appreciation for the absurd. You aren't going to see Ibsen (and that's OK!).
Steve McCoy stars as King Arthur. He is the straight man of the show, and a lot of his humor comes from his exasperation when things don't go his way, or when he is treated in a less than regal manner. Along for the journey is the lowly Patsy (Jason Elliott Brown), Arthur's servant, and the willing target of much of his frustration.
The majority of the first act is spent collecting knights along the way to join Arthur and Patsy in their quest for the Holy Grail. Including Sir Robin (Kasidy Devlin), Sir Lancelot (Adam Grabau) and Sir Galahad (Troy Bruchwalksi). These actors should be complimented, not only for making their characters distinct from each other, but also from the multiple other bit parts that they are all required to portray.
Leslie Jackson plays the Lady of the Lake, who serves as Arthur's mentor, guide, and eventual love interest. Jackson has a strong set of pipes and gets to show them off in numbers like "The Song That Goes Like This" and "The Diva's Lament".
The show's second act is not quite as tight. The script loses some of the momentum. Whereas the first half of the show focused on bringing these knights together for a singular purpose, they are scattered in the second half in order to complete less compelling (but still very funny) minor quests.
The orchestra sounded impressively full considering it only contained five musicians. They nicely enhanced the vocals on stage, and had a few surprise moments of hilarity of their own.
I have two minor criticisms with this production. Both of them are more or less "mere flesh wounds".
In the spirit of Monty Python, the show uses significant animation to tell the story and to crack jokes. The patterns on the theater's curtains made the projections very difficult to see. I am not sure if this is the fault of the touring company or the theater.
I also felt that the choreography was fairly basic. While not expecting A Chorus Line , I feel that more intricate, tighter dance numbers would better compliment the otherwise excellent acting and singing performed on stage.
Spamalot is a enjoyable "knight" at theater, full of nonsense and fun. It plays at the Hershey Center now through February 3rd. Tickets and more info can be found on Hershey' Theatre's website.