MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOTMusic by John Du Prez, Eric Idle and Neil Innes
Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle
Based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Monty Python
Director – Hunter Foster
Music Director – James Cunningham
Choreographer – Jeremy Dumont
Production Stage Manager – Jamie Grossman
Associate Producer – Lindsey Atkinson
Production Manager – Jackson H Rushen
Technical Director – AJ Kellison
Hair/Wig/Makeup Design – Catherine Petty-Rogers
Sound Design – Kyle McCord
Lighting Design – Samuel Rushen
Scenic Design – Adam Koch
Costume Design – Tim Hatley
CAST (In order of appearance)
Historian/Not Dead Fred/French Guard/Minstrel/Prince Herbert – John Garry
Mayor/Dennis’s Mother/Sir Bedevere/Concorde – James Chandler*
King Arthur – Jeff McCarthy
Patsy/Guard 2 – Robb Sapp
Sir Robin/Guard 1/Brother Maynard – John Scherer*
Sir Lancelot/The French Taunter/Knight of Ni/Tim the Enchanter – Mike Disalvo
The Lady of the Lake – Julia Murney
Sir Dennis Galahad/The Black Knight/Prince Herbert’s Father – Christopher J Deaton
Sir Not Appearing – Joshua Kumler
Nun – Kyle Igneczi
Monk/Sir Bors – Michael Russell
French Guards – Spencer Laboda; Luke Longacre
Minstrels – Monique Abry; Michelle Mayo
Rabbit Puppeteer – Alyssa Gardner
Ensemble – Monique Abry, Alyssa Gardner, Kyle Igneczi, Joshua Kumler, Spencer Laboda, Luke Longacre, Michelle Mayo, Jill Nicholas, Taylor Quick, Zak Reynolds, Michael Russell, Olivia Sharber
Conductor – James Cunningham
Violin – Ann Rebecca Rathbun
Reeds – Roger Dismore
Trumpet – Larry Spencer
Trombone – James McNair
Keyboard 1 – James McQuillen
Keyboard 2 – Aimee Bozarth
Guitar – Kim Platko
Bass – Rex Bozarth
Percussion – Michael McNicholas
Reviewed Performance: 6/4/2016
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Spamalot is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was written and performed by the Monty Python comedy group, consisting of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Monty Python’s Spamalot opened on Broadway on March 17, 2005. The production was nominated for fifteen Tony Awards winning four, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. It played for 1,575 performances, closing on January 11, 2009.
One thing that stood out the most was the pacing for the show. Hunter Foster kept things moving through the great blocking choices he made as the director. By the end of the first act I couldn’t believe that we were already halfway through the show. I especially appreciated how seamless the transitions were between the scenes. Everything flowed so well that I stayed enthralled in the story for the duration of the show.
Jeremy Dumont did a phenomenal job with the choreography. The dancers knew their parts and twisted and twirled in time to the music. The choreography showed great variety and fitted each song well. There was the “Laker Girls Cheer”, which looked like a professional quality half-time number, and the Vegas-themed “Knights of the Round Table” scene, with its opulence and high energy. “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” added more variety with its strong tap elements. The dancers were all in sync with each other and exuded energy in every number, which made the choreography one of the most impressive parts of the show.
Catherine Petty-Rogers had her work cut out for her as the hair/wig/makeup designer. The show is set mostly in medieval England; so many characters had a layer of grime to showcase their poverty. I appreciated that this detail was included and easily discernible from my seat. Petty-Rogers also did well with her plague-ridden peasant makeup and also with the hair and wigs. I loved the detail that she gave to the women of the Lake: a headdress that was clearly reminiscent of seaweed for the Lady of the Lake while the Laker girls’ entire heads also looked like seaweed. Then there was Sir Galahad, with his Fabio-esque locks. The hair and headdresses were fabulous because the hair looked and moved like it was the actor’s real hair and added detail to each character. Catherine Petty-Rogers did an extraordinary job making the show real through her attention to detail.
Spamalot had live music conducted by James Cunningham. I loved how well he managed the volume of the orchestra. I could hear everything they played and they didn’t overpower the actors. The music was clear and well-rehearsed. Very well done by Cunningham.
Spamalot was a very elaborate production so it definitely used sound effects. Kyle McCord was the sound designer. At different times there are gunshots in the show or thuds from someone falling out of a tower. These were timed perfectly for the best comedic effect and were very easy to hear.
Samuel Rushen was in charge of lighting design and he used the lights to help guide the audience through different locations. The stage was always lit so that I could see everything on stage, but the lights were dimmed for a forest or had more blues and greens for the entrance of the Lady of the Lake. At different times in the show certain actors or objects were highlighted by spotlights. These lights always hit the actor or object perfectly. Overall this lighting accentuated the characters and the story well.
The set design as done by Adam Koch was deceptively simple but extremely efficient. The show opens with a medieval map of England, styled very much like the one used in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The rest of the set included two turrets and a large gate. These made for a sturdy castle that allowed the actors many different spots to enter and exit. Throughout the show some other elements were added, such as trees or mud piles to fit the scene. The scenic design was consistent throughout, with each piece visibly belonging to the set and adding to the Monty Python-esque feel of the show.
Tim Hatley designed the costumes and did a fabulous job. The details were amazingly intricate for such a large production. The peasants had loose, dirty, and tattered clothing perfect for their rank and the time period. Each knight, even those in the ensemble, had a unique design to his tabard. I appreciated how much detail went into each ensemble costume. Each of the ladies’ ensemble dresses sparkled for numbers like “Find Your Grail” and “Knights of the Round Table”. The smaller roles still received detailed costumes, with the French knights having very different looking armor to distinguish them from the English knights. Tim the Enchanter and the Knight of Ni each got costumes to make them larger than life. Several characters had costumes that added fun references to other things, like a French mime or an appearance from Cher. King Arthur only had one outfit for the show, a set of chainmail with a regal design on the tabard and a crown-like helm. The Lady of the Lake had the most elaborate costumes. Everything she wore sparkled and was reminiscent of the lake. Most of her dresses were deep blue or seaweed green, with arm bands that draped like sea weed or floats that rippled like water. These costumes helped make the show more elaborate and well done.
Jeff McCarthy was outstanding playing the part of King Arthur. His strong, regal presence on stage fit in perfectly with the role of a king, while his comedic timing stayed true to the spirit of Monty Python. He really portrayed the part of a medieval monarch, with straight posture that made him authoritative and a careless disregard for those beneath him, like all the peasants he encountered. I appreciated his well-delivered lines and his talented singing.
The female lead was the Lady of the Lake, played by Julia Murney. Murney had a very dynamic presence and a fabulous voice. It takes a lot of vocal skill to be deliberately bad, and that’s something Murney pulled off. She always hit her notes, and she deliberately was over the top in songs such as “The Song that Goes Like This”. Her voice was strong and clear in all renditions of “Find Your Grail”. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her. Murney’s face was expressive throughout the show, and she modulated her tone to communicate her different feelings. All in all, Murney was a fabulous female lead.
Christopher J. Deaton played the roles of Sir Dennis Galahad, the Black Night, and Prince Herbert’s Father. He successfully moved between each role, making each character distinct. Dennis Galahad goes from the mud-collecting, slouching peasant with his cockney accent to the straight, strong, and majestic Sir Galahad with a noble quest. As the Black Night, Deaton had excellent timing in his fight scene with Arthur. He moved through the fight well and timed his falls and stumbles perfectly. He added to the humor as he slowly eyed his flesh wounds and then dismissed them. And then, as Prince Herbert’s Father, Deaton created another distinct character with a new posture, new accent, and new objective. Deaton did a great job developing these characters and thus enhanced the show.
Mike Disalvo started the show as Lancelot, a shovel-toting man who wanted to join King Arthur in his glorious quest. In that opening scene, Disalvo showed strength in his comedic timing, both in the way he delivered his lines and the way he dispatched of his opposition. Disalvo also had the role of the French Taunter, where he further showcased his great timing with the insults he threw at Arthur and the knights. As the French Taunter he enunciated things well, which is impressive considering his outrageously comical French accent. Disalvo was also the Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter. For both roles he made himself more intimidating with a deeper voice and larger posture, which helped with how the other characters interacted with him during those scenes. While Disalvo didn’t have a specific moment where he really shined, he made each of his characters move the story forward.
John Garry was phenomenal in the portrayal of his many roles. Every time he was onstage I was interested to see what he was going to do. He has incredible dance skills that were especially noticeable in “I Am Not Yet Dead” when he was playing the part of Not Dead Fred. His vocal skills shone when he was singing “Where Are You” portraying Prince Herbert. Garry’s other parts in the show were equally handled with skill and dynamic in the performance.
King Arthur’s side-kick Patsy was played by Robb Sapp. Sapp did a great job at his main role of clapping two coconuts together for Arthur’s horse. He exemplified his role by running around constantly, fetching things for Arthur and getting things on and off the stage, like their campfire. Sapp created his character with a stooped posture from carrying so much for Arthur and eyes on the ground, giving him that lowly underling appearance. His voice shone in his song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, being appropriately upbeat and heartening.
John Scherer juggled the roles of Sir Robin, Guard 1, and Brother Maynard. He entered the show as Guard 1, with a distinct voice for that character as he argued with Arthur. He really entertained as Sir Robin in the song “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway”. Scherer threw himself into that song, with his voice, expressions, and posture communicating his point to Arthur. And though Brother Maynard wasn’t on stage long, Scherer really used his face to enhance his character’s holiness. He would modulate his face and expression as he read from his holy book to add more to his role.
James Chandler played the part of the flatulent Sir Bedevere, along with many other roles including the Mayor, Dennis’s mother and Concorde. Each of the characters were distinct in the way that he portrayed them, adding a fun element to his part. I especially enjoyed his comedic timing as the Mayor and also the philosophical approach he portrayed as Dennis’s mother.
The ensemble for the show did a fabulous job throughout. They enhanced the reality of each scene by being constantly energetic and playing different roles. They had to alternate from Finish fish slappers to English peasants to French peasants to residents of Camelot and a slew of other parts, though every time they were on stage they were always in character. I watched their faces and saw that they always focused where it was appropriate for them to focus. Maybe that was on each other, maybe it was on whoever was speaking, but their attention never wandered. Their dancing was also incredible, as they were always on time, in sync, and energetic. They really helped to elevate the show to a spectacular performance.
I highly recommend this show for an evening of hilarious British comedy. It stays true to the spirit of Monty Python while showcasing the skills of the spectacular cast. Don’t hesitate to buy your tickets now.
3101 West Lancaster Ave
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Performances run through June 12th.
Performance dates and times are as follows: Sunday June 5 at 2:00pm, Tuesday June 7th through Thursday June 9th at 7:30pm, Friday June 10th at 8:00pm, Saturday June 11th at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday June 12th at 2:00pm.
TICKET PRICES for Monty Python’s Spamalot range between $41 and $76
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.casamanana.org or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the Casa Mañana Theatre box Office.