Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Monty Python's Spamalot
Also see John's review of Two Sisters and a Piano
The Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County (formerly The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts) presents the national tour of Monty Python's Spamalot, the comedic musical lovingly ripped off from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Years after its 1975 release, Monty Python and the Holy Grail still has a devoted following that makes the success of this musical possible. As in the film, the musical is an irreverent parody of Arthurian Legends. Eric Idle, a member of the original Monty Python team, wrote the musical's book and lyrics, and collaborated with John Du Prez on the music. In tribute to the original film, where six actors played the majority of all of the male parts (and a few female ones), aside from those playing King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake, the musical's leading actors play multiple roles as well.
Set in medieval England, King Arthur travels the land with his servant Patsy trying to recruit Knights of the Round Table to join his quest for the Holy Grail. He persuades Sir Robin, Sir Lancelot and Sir Bedevere to become Knights of the Round Table, but must call upon the Lady of the Lake to help win over the newly knighted Sir Galahad.
The five knights gather in Camelot's Excalibur resort which resembles a Las Vegas casino, where amidst their partying they are instructed by the voice of God to go forth and find the Holy Grail. They fight taunting French soldiers, the Knights who say "Ni", traverse the "dark and very expensive forest", defeat the Black Knight and evil rabbit, and save a young man named Prince Herbert from a dreaded arranged marriage. In the end the Holy Grail is found (beneath the seat of an audience member), King Arthur is to be wed to the Lady of the Lake (whose name turns out to be Guinevere) and Prince Herbert ends up with Sir Lancelot (who turns out to be gay).
There are a few sections in the script that call for improvisation on the part of the actors, and they take the opportunity to reference current events and local culture. For example, during this stop, there is mention of pop star Posh Spice, canned Spam and Will Smith's "Welcome To Miami." Broadway fans are sure to appreciate tongue-in-cheek musical theatre references such as "The Song That Goes Like This," a spoof of the trite, formulaic Broadway ballad; the knights breaking into the bottle dance from Fiddler on the Roof; a song titled "The Diva's Lament" all about waiting off-stage to come back on for a big number; choreography swiped from West Side Story; the song "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" about not being able to make it on Broadway without any Jews; the character of Sir Not Appearing in This Show being Don Quixote from Man Of La Mancha; and a random line from Sondheim's "Another Hundred People." One must be alert to catch the faced-paced humor as it all goes by in a flurry.
In this award-winning national tour of Monty Python's Spamalot, the music is fun and the tunes are memorable. The staging is campy and comedic. The acting is the full-out Monty Python style one would hope for. In many cases, even the first appearance of a specific scene or character from the film evokes laughter and a smattering of applause. The costuming, lighting and special effects duplicate the expected physical jokes from the the original film with craft and dexterity.
Though new to the role, Gary Beach plays King Arthur with the polish and ease of someone who has been playing the role for years. A lovely and sexy Esther Stilwell, as the Lady of the Lake, sings with power and acts with humor. James Beaman is fun as the fussy Sir Robin. Ben Davis is dashing as Sir Galahad. Patrick Heusinger is great as The French Taunter and the newly "outed" Sir Lancelot. Brad Bradley is perfect as the long suffering side kick, Patsy. Christopher Sutton does a wonderful job as the Minstrel and and Not Dead Fred, and does a bit of enjoyable scene-stealing as Prince Herbert. The ensemble plays cameo roles throughout and demonstrates solid singing and dancing. There is no great social commentary in this musical, but there is great, great fun to be had by all, and the talents and energy of the orchestra and cast are sure to send you out of the theatre humming "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."
The musical previewed on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on February 14, 2005, and officially opened on March 17, 2005. It received fourteen Tony Award Nominations, winning for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Mike Nichols) and Best Performance by a Featured Actress (Sara Ramirez). A North American tour of the musical began in the spring of 2006, going on to win three 2007 Touring Broadway Awards. With productions springing up in places such as London, Las Vegas and Australia, the first translated version of Monty Python's Spamalot will open in Germany in 2009.
Monty Python's Spamalot appeared March 4 - March 9, 2008 at the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, FL. For information or to purchase tickets for the many diverse offering of the Arsht Center, you may contact them at 305-949-6072, or visit them at www.arschtcenter.org. Tickets are also available in person through Ticketmaster by phone at 305-358-5885 in Dade County, in person at Ticketmaster outlets, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. This tour of Monty Python's Spamalot is also scheduled to appear March 11 - March 16, 2008 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. For more information you may also go to www.MontyPythonsSpamalot.com.
Stanford Broadway Across America - South Florida is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association. The Florida Theatrical Association is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over 5 million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com.
The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.