Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Carrollwood Cultural Center

Closing weekend of the sold-out show

By: Jul. 29, 2023
Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Carrollwood Cultural Center

Review: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Carrollwood Cultural Center

Carrollwood Cultural Center's SPAMALOT is an absolute riot of a musical, playfully mocking the timeless tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Crafted by the comedic minds of Eric Idle and John Du Prez, and masterfully narrated by the show Historian John Hooper, SPAMALOT draws inspiration from the iconic film. With its quirky humor, infectious melodies, and clever banter, the cast exceptionally recreates the magic of Monty Python. From God's feet and a disembodied voice, "Stop looking up my skirt," to a cow tossed down from the theatre balcony.

From the very beginning, the musical launches with a satirical portrayal of the dark ages in the side-splitting "Fisch Schlapping Song," a hilarious number that sets the tone for the uproarious adventure ahead. This opening act introduces the audience to the offbeat world of SPAMALOT, where absurdity and laughter reign.

Even with the expected ludicrous nature of the production, the choreography by Devan Bittinger is incredible, the group dance numbers are fun to watch (especially the poor umbrella girl), and the cast's vocals are exceptional.

King Arthur (Luis Graham) is on a quest. With him is his loyal but somewhat bewildered servant, Patsy (Craig Ruska), whose facial expressions and clanking coconuts provide ample doses of laughter throughout the performance. King Arthur gathers his valiant knights Sir Robin, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, and Sir Bedevere for this quest, comically played by Tony Peter Agati, DJ Schueet, David Groomes, and Christopher Kadonsky-Grant. 

As King Arthur sets forth on the pursuit of the Holy Grail, he finds himself entangled with the enigmatic Knights Who Say "Ni," the lead knight (Becki Mallett) balancing on (I think) stilts skillfully brings the quirky character to life. The Knights' preposterous demands for a shrubbery become a running joke that perfectly captures the signature absurdity and witty wordplay that Monty Python is revered for.

Another unforgettable moment is the "Bring Out Your Dead" scene.

"I'm not dead yet."

They manage to make the bubonic plague funny. They infuse dark humor, catchy tunes, and so much energy into it that you can't help but laugh despite the morbid backdrop.

A true highlight comes in the form of "The Black Knight" scene, one of the musical's most iconic and memorable moments. King Arthur's encounter with the self-assured and persistent Black Knight (Carl Canestrano) results in a hilarious battle where limbs are humorously dismembered. Still, the indomitable spirit of the Black Knight remains intact, leading to uproarious laughter from the audience.

As King Arthur continues his quest, they stumble upon a castle inhabited by the French Taunters, whose mockery leads to the classic line, "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!" With an exaggerated French accent, Joel Ferrer steals the scene as the Taunter. The name-calling is so over-the-top it's impossible not to crack up.

Later, the reveal of Sir Lancelot's gay identity, with a hidden red and silver sparkly costume, has the audience catcalling in appreciation.

Amidst the brilliant lunacy is one of the most stunning voices in the production, Erin Ruska, as the Lady of the Lake. Ruska can hit and hold notes like nobody's business. "The Diva's Lament" is hysterical, showcasing her comedic side, and when Arthur and the Lady perform the reprise of "The Song That Goes Like This," it's a moment to behold.

There's much more to mention, but you probably don't want to read a book. Suffice it to say, the entire cast absolutely nails it. Congratulations to directors Culver Casson and Harrison Baxley. People will be talking about this fantastic show long after this final weekend.

A last mention is for the sign language interpreters, who are as fun to watch recreating the chaos on stage as the actual show.

Whether you are a devoted Monty Python fan or someone seeking to escape into a silly night of theatre, Carrollwood Cultural Center's SPAMALOT is a sidesplittingly funny masterpiece that lovingly parodies the legendary Arthurian tale.

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