BWW Review: SPAMALOT: Of Knights, Laughs, and Spams
Manila, Philippines--It was a very rainy evening [July 27]. I was tired from working all day. The streets were flooded already. I just wanted to go home. But since the RCBC Plaza was just blocks away, I opened my umbrella and walked towards the venue where "Monty Phyton's Spamalot" would be playing.
"This better be good," I told myself before I entered the theatre. The first thing I noticed was the stage. It was simple. There were brown blocks that were made to look like a big wall. And then the usual VO for the sponsors came in.
I was not that familiar with this musical. All I knew was that it was adapted from a '70s movie parodying the Arthurian Legend. But of course, you couldn't just shrug it off since it was awarded Best Musical at the 59th Tony Awards in 2005.
Satisfyingly, the show was a consistent laughtrip from the minute you heard the VO up until the last note. The Fisch Schlapping Song made me laugh like I haven't laughed in ages. I knew then that I was in for a very, very entertaining night.
Enter King Arthur, played by the very well-rounded Lorenz Martinez, and his servant Patsy, played by Domileo Espejo, whom I think made a mark playing the role. Their dynamics throughout the show was very consistent. They interacted well from their "riding" moments up to Act 2, especially during the Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and I'm All Alone numbers.
And then the Lady of the Lake, the diva, probably the only real woman in the show with a real character, came out with her magnificent Francis Libiran gowns that brought a bit of elegance to the musical, especially with the ballad that she and King Arthur sang. Like Lorenz, Rachel Alejandro didn't have any other characters but proved she didn't need any to show off her immense talents. She bared a lot of her vocal prowess and range required by this production.
Sir Robin and Lancelot's first scene, played by George Schulze and Noel Rayos, respectively, if you think about it, should've been a dark moment because it was about a plague and murdering a man, but since they're in the "Spamalot" universe, the scene instead became another excuse for the audience to laugh hard.
The next knight Dennis Galahad's scene brought the comedy to another level because Dean Rosen's quick delivery of politically charged punchlines was well-executed, enhanced by Mrs. Galahad's Mean Girls-like brattiness (played by Bibo Reyes).
The male-dominated cast was comfortable in playing secondary women characters that made the show even funnier. The audience didn't know how to react even further when the cross-dressing cheerleaders came out, or when the YMCA number was done during Lancelot's "coming out" party. Reb Atadero, although playing non-knight characters, proved that he didn't need to be in a leading role to stand out.
There was a lot of literature, Broadway, and pop culture references: from the Cher look, to an ensemble member who looks like Eponine, to Despacito and Britney Spears, and much more.
The production should be given props for things like quick costume changes; a brilliant ensemble; Knights who say Ni on stilts; varying accents to highlight the differences in nationalities, and for localizing the show. The original Jews discussion was replaced by something that could be understood by the majority of the audience. The cast also broke the fourth wall and took selfies. If you're looking for slapstick, you should watch for The Black Knight and Killer Rabbit scenes to experience the genre at its finest.
"Monty Python's Spamalot," produced by Upstart Productions and directed by Nicky Triviño and Joel Trinidad, runs until August 12 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, in Makati.
Photos: Jory Rivera, Jaypee Maristaza