Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Columbus Immersive Theatre

The Garden Theatre will only offer 15% (44 seats) of its full capacity to keep shows safe and socially distanced with audience members required to wear face coverings.

By: Mar. 22, 2021

Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Columbus Immersive Theatre

Before its 2004 debut on Broadway, MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT, Eric Idle's musical take on the cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, raised a few eyebrows. Python purists wondered if a musical could capture the lunacy of the 1975 film. Broadway aficionados wondered if there would be a place for Monty Python's brand of humor on the Great White Way.

Judging by the reaction of the socially distant, but energetic crowd at the opening night of the Columbus Immersive Theatre's production at the Garden Theatre, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes. The Edward Carignan-directed production was able to recapture the British humor while adding and updating the songs of Idle and John Du Prez in the 90-minute musical.

The show runs from March 18- April 3 on both live and virtual stages at the Garden Theatre (1187 N. High Street). The Garden Theatre will only offer 25% (65 seats) of its full capacity to keep shows safe and socially distanced with audience members required to wear face coverings at all times. Some of these protocols have been worked into the show with all of the Knights of the Round Table wearing masks and having a gong strike when two characters were supposed to kiss.

The performance loosely follows the plot of the aforementioned Holy Grail. However, since the film version only contained a handful of songs like, "Camelot" and "The Ballad of Sir Robin," Idle adds several new songs and then stole some other pieces from Python's The Life of Brian and the television show "Monty Python's Flying Circus." As a result, some of SPAMALOT seems like a patchwork quilt of previous songs and sketches into the show as well as turning other parts of the movie into songs.

That being said, Idle is a talented musician, with over 150 songs to his credit. He was a co-conceiver of SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL as well as one of the driving forces behind The Rutles, a brilliant mockumentary/parody of the Beatles, with Innes. SPAMALOT'S best song, The Song That Goes On Too Long, is cleverly wordsmithed into a caricature of nearly every Broadway show-stopping ballad: "A sentimental song/If it casts a magic spell/They only hum along/We'll over-act like Hell/Oh, this is the song that goes like this." In the CIT version, Amber Knicole (who plays the divaesque Lady of the Lake) and Luke Bovenizer (Sir Gallahad) perfected the over-the-top delivery and added in hilarious social distance protocols of only touching each other with long prosthetic limbs.

Knicole, the singer of funk band Mojo Flo, and Jordan Stocksdale (King Arthur) weave together a strong chemistry as the focal points of the show. However, nearly everyone -- Ariel Messeca (Sir Lancelot), Cody Schmid (Sir Robin), Cody Westbrook (Herbert), Joe Gallagher (Patsy), Bovenizer (Sir Gallahad), and Ryan Kopycinski (Sir Bedevere) - gets a turn in the spotlight. Each actor adds his own flair to the show and plays about four or five different characters in the musical as did the Python troupe in the original movie.

The show has a talented ensemble of Bill Goldsmith (historian), and Avery Bank, Patrick Carmichael, Ian Charles, Rachel Courtney, Lauren Drexel, and Dionysia Williams, who co-choreographed the show with Carignan.

The Columbus Immersive Theatre presents MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT 7 p.m. March 18-20, 25-27, and April 1-3. Additionally there will be 2 p.m. Sunday matinees on March 21, March 28 and April 4.