West Coast Florida
Also see Bill's review of A Romp with Gilbert and Sullivan
There is no way that anyone could hope to duplicate the extraordinary Broadway castTim Curry, Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce and star in the making Christian Borlebut all of these productions are showing that the musical is so broad in humor and zaniness that it is practically indestructible. FST's production in a 300-seat theater had a fully professional cast, but seemed a bit small in size. Manatee Players with an amateur cast gets the size of the show right, with bigger sets and more room to move around; therefore, the humor is broader. Some of the star turns of the second act, such as "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" and "His Name is Lancelot," don't land as strongly as they did with the professional cast, but scenes like the French Taunter and the Knight of Ni are much funnier in the larger house. Director Kathy Pingel knows how to get the best out of community theater actorsnever go subtle when you can go B R O A D. Choreographer Vanessa Russo contributes fine dancing to the mix. Stage-filling sets are by Marc Lalosh, who also designed projections that are very reminiscent of the Broadway production, costumes by Becky Evans, and lighting design by Mike Wood. All are of a piece with Ms. Pingel's vision.
Michael Bajjaly leads the cast as Arthur, a role he has essayed before, albeit in a different musical (Camelot). He is more befuddled than leader but his gang of knights seem willing to follow him all over the stage and occasionally into the audience. Mike Nolan is Patsy, Sancho to King Arthur's Don Quixote. He is the saddest sack I have seen in a long time. Dave Downer, Tristan Martin, William E. Masuck, and Jason Moore are respectively the knights Sir Robin, Sir Lancelot, Sir (Dennis) Galahad, and Sir Bedevere. Brian Craft is terrific is several roles which include The Historian, Not Dead Fred, French Guard, Minstrel, and especially Prince Herbert, who helps Lancelot out of his closet. Michelle Anaya is a buxom Lady of the Lake leading her excellent Laker Girls ensemble. I attended the performance with the mother of one of the male ensemble and her son told me that there is unending levity backstage, including but certainly not limited to knock-knock jokes. The energy from all that goofyness is all over the stage.
Musical direction is by Rick Bogner who leads a lively five-piece band.
Manatee Players' Spamalot is a good time waiting to be had.
Manatee Players presents Spamalot at Manatee Center for the Performing Arts through May 17, 2015, at 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton; 941-748-0111, manateeplayers.com.
Cast (In Order of Appearance):
Directed by Kathy Pingel