BWW Review: TheatriKIDS Create Laughs-A-Lot in SPAMALOT
SPAMALOT, Eric Idle's delicious and insanely funny parody of the Arthurian legend, is enjoying an equally delightful and enthusiastic sendup by the young actors of TheatriKIDS (The Youth Theatre program of Theatrikos Theatre Company in Flagstaff, AZ.
Sure the school edition has been edited some but not enough to detract from the enjoyment that derives from the core spice and sass that make this Monty Pythonesque work a perennial crowd pleaser.
And the youngsters in this production do not disappoint. Under the astute and inspired guidance of Theatrikos's education director Joe Maniglia and music director Kenlynn Winsor, the 32-member cast give their all to recreate the travels and travails of King Arthur (Matthew Sutphen) as he recruits high and low for his Round Table Knights to join the quest for the Holy Grail.
When the going gets tough and it looks like the almost-toughs may get going, inspiration comes from the Lady of the Lake (Areya Kugler). Her charms certainly work on a wary peasant named Dennis Galahad (Dermot Louchard) who doubts the King's authenticity. Accompanied by her Laker Girls (some generous patron chipped in to dress them in L.A. Lakers tee shirts!), Lady convinces Galahad, Galahad is beknighted, and the two launch into the silliness of The Song That Goes Like This.
It's moments like this that light up the playhouse stage, and the Idle shticks are nonstop, of course. Horseless Arthur's sidekick, Patsy (Noah Grahamann) skipping in tow and clacking coconut halves to serve as the sound of a horse's hooves. Arthur's literally disarming encounter with the Black Knight (Carson MacPhee). The failed effort of the Trojan Rabbit. And more. All serve to charge up the audience and make for a joyful two hours.
The joy of youth theatre is that, notwithstanding the team effort, you may see the hint of an exceptional talent in his or her early development or even a star in the making. That was certainly the case as I noted the performances of Matthew Sutphen, a fine vocalist with a natural stage presence, who embodied Arthur with a fine mix of the mirthful and the royally determined; Dermot Louchard whose command of his character and strong baritone voice were magnetic; the delightful Noah Grahamann who is gifted with a strong comic sensibility, hitting the now-classic Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life out of the Camelot park; Ruby Heinonen whose bounce and energy as a member of the ensemble and as Fred (He Is Not Dead Yet) were infectious and grin-inducing; Areya Kugler, kicking up stardust with her renditions of Find Your Grail and Whatever Happened To My Part?); and Robin Tittlebaugh whose turn as Angel and a Ni Knight was full of passion and vitality.
MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT SCHOOL EDITION runs through September 3rd at the Doris Harper-White Community Playhouse in historic Downtown Flagstaff.
Photo credit to Becky Daggett