BWW Review: SPAMALOT at Musicals At Richter
On Friday, June 28, I had the pleasure of seeing the farcical Monty Python musical SPAMALOT performed outdoors by Musicals at Richter, on the grounds of the Richter House, next to the Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury, CT. I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with Musicals at Richter. I am very impressed at the high level of talent that they have assembled together to perform what is truly a wonderful production for all in attendance, and all on stage. The show is brilliantly directed by Shannon Courtney Denihan with musical direction by Tracey Marble and Claire Simard.
The venue is set up outside, with trees behind the stage's backdrop, creating a positive vibe that simultaneously appears enclosed, yet open upwards to the stars, on this clear night. The audience sits in chairs, some provided, some that were brought by the audience members themselves, set up in such a way that still allows for entrances and exits through a central aisle of the audience, when necessary. The stage has a detailed, multi-dimensional appearing painting of trees as the backdrop, while real trees hover above the back of the stage. A moveable castle is placed center stage, for the scenes that require it, with castles both on stage left and stage right. All the castles enable the actors to appear towards the top.
The talented live orchestra is set up towards the stage on house right, under a canopy. The music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle adds to the humor of this brilliant show. Right from the overture, the animal sounds and gunshots coming from the orchestra get the audience ready for the hilarious stage performance to follow.
This parody of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table is based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, adapted for the stage by Eric Idle. It deviates from the movie in some ways while maintaining verbatim lines, in other parts. This creates the challenge for the actors to deliver the lines with both a voice and inflection that is consistent with what the audience members are expecting from their experience seeing the movie, yet simultaneously bringing something new and personal to the characters. This Musicals at Richter cast succeeds on all levels.
Walter Cramer is Arthur, King of the Britain, the central character, with Mike Armstrong as his trusty servant, Patsy, who shines with lead vocals on the majority of Monty Python's most popular song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Bob Filipowich is "brave," Sir Robin as well as Brother Maynard, with Daniel Satter as Sir Galahad and Dennis who are fascinatingly one in the same character, in the stage production, with Daniel Satter also bringing his talents to the role of Herbert's Father. Sir Bedevere is played by Rob Mayette, complete with the humorous idea of the Trojan Rabbit. Tom Denihan is Sir Lancelot, a character that has a surprise twist in the stage production. The stage chemistry between these actors is very strong, which is essential for the humor to work, which it does.
In addition to Sir Lancelot, Tom Denihan particularly shines in his roles of Tim the Enchanter, the lead French taunter, and the head knight who says...."Ni!" He really nails the John Cleese voices and inflections that were used in the movie. As the head knight who says...."Ni," he also makes a reference to a song from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, a reference I never heard made when I had seen this stage production in the past.
In the stage production, the female lead character is the Lady of the Lake, with Mary Cantoni playing that role the best I have ever seen it played.
John Murphy showcases his talent, particularly in the role of Not Dead Fred, the guy who is "not dead yet" in the "bring out your dead" scene, which in this musical includes a catchy and humorous musical number appropriately called, "I Am Not Dead Yet."
Jacob Litt steals the show, both as Sir Robin's lead minstrel, and as Prince Herbert. His strong stage presence, vocals, and acting talent capture the audience's attention. "Brave Sir Robin," though short, still remains my favorite musical number in the production.
Emma Lubbers, Denise Milmerstadt, Teah Renzi, Molly Robinson, and Brenda Schoenfeld add some excellent dancing to the production, with numerous costume changes throughout the show.
Will King Arthur find the grail? If so, where will it be? Come to the show to find out!
For mature audiences, I highly recommend SPAMALOT which is scheduled to continue to run through July 13, on the grounds of the Richter House, next to the Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury, CT. For times and tickets please go to www.musicalsatrichter.org or email email@example.com.