BWW Reviews: SPAMALOT Pleases at Hillbarn Theatre

Feche la Monty Python quotes and let the familiar one-liners commence. Amongst a brilliant set layered with castles, clouds and peek-through windows, Hillbarn Theatre unleashes a giant can of "Spamalot," featuring daring (and not-so-daring) knights, cancan dancers, killer rabbits, French taunters, the famed coconut shells and extremely original tributes to musical theatre, courtesy of director Dan Demers.

Demers, a standout star in last year's "The Producers," knows how to direct comedy, and he has assembled a cast of ridiculous talent to match the ridiculous humor of based on the film, "Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail." Audiences require basic knowledge of Monty Python or of Broadway theatre to truly appreciate all the jokes of "Spamalot," but anyone with a dry sense of humor or who takes pleasure in nonsensical comedy will find nonstop laughter aplenty.

King Arthur and his faithful servant Patsy seek brave men from around the world to join their company as knights. When god (voice of Eric Idle) commands they search for and find the Holy Grail, each must discover his own person grail (unlike the film, the musical actually has a purpose and moral - albeit with tons of absurd events thrown in). Aiding their quest, the Lady of the Lake encourages the men with magical oohs and awes, backup Laker girls and fantastic scat singing by the witty and expressive diva, Tracy Chiappone. Meanwhile, the audience receives a bounty of actors playing multiple roles in traditionAl Monty Python style.

Lawrence-Michael C. Arias stands out in his double duty as the strangely flatulent Sir Bedevere and as the mother of dashingly handsome Sir Galahad (Thomas Ignatius). Steven Ennis leaves the strongest impression of the night in his turns as "Not Dead Yet Fred," the lead minstrel, and Herbert, an overtly feminine prince in distress. Ray Mendonca (the cowardly Sir Robin - complete with a chicken as his insignia) displays an incredible amount of energy during "You Won't Succeed in Broadway," the big show-biz tune of the second acT. Russell Ward holds hilarious revelations in store as the homicidally brave Sir Lancelot. And then there's the aptly named Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Review. They're joined by a fabulous ensemble that bursts with energy while dancing to perfectly executed choreography by Alex Hsu, while Russ Bohard leads the cast as the ego-filled, but loveable regal Arthur and Paul Araquistain (Patsy) follows close behind with his coconuts and loyal cheers of encouragement in production favorites like "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

The actors do have some occasional trouble with small items such as the Black Knight's costume and overshadowing musical tracks, mere "flesh wounds" compared to the overall high quality of the shoW. Hillbarn's reputation for putting on great shows and the strong popularity of Monty Python will likely lead to many sold out performances.


Hillbarn Theatre
Through September 22

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From This Author Harmony Wheeler