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Spamalot
Florida Studio Theater

Also see Bill's review of Purlie


Patrick Noonan, Bruce Warren, Danny Bernardy
and Gil Brady

King Arthur is in town—you can tell by the clip clopping of horse's hooves, or at least of coconuts representing same, as he gallops around the stage of Florida Studio Theater's Gompertz Theater in Monty Python's hilarious Spamalot, lovingly ripped off from the classic film Monty Python and The Holy Grail. The musical opened on Broadway in 2005, won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and ran for three years, eventually falling victim to the lousy economy. Spamalot has been seen at least once in a touring production at the Van Wezel, but Florida Studio's production represents its first home grown representation, and it's a darn good one. This is probably the largest production ever attempted by FST, made possible by the beautiful restoration and enlargement of the Gompertz Theater.

An intrepid cast of 16, eight imported principals and eight local favorite performers as the ensemble, offer two hours of merriment, which should keep Sarasota audiences laughing through the holidays and the entire month of January. The production, scheduled only through January 11th, has now been extended for three extra weeks until February 2, 2014.

Patrick Noonan, featured in several previous FST shows heads the cast as King Arthur, staunch leader as well as befuddled warrior, as he meets up with obstacles he cannot quite figure out how to overcome. He is propped up by sidekick Patsy, comically played by Kevin Loreque. Like many a master/servant relationship (think Don Giovanni/Leporello), it is hard to figure out who the brains of the outfit is. Along the way Arthur acquires four followers, the knights of the Round Table, although there is no table in view, round or otherwise. Sir Robin, played by Bruce Warren; Sir Lancelot, in the person of Danny Bernardy; Sir (Danny) Galahad, inhabited by Gil Brady; and Sir Bedevere, who also masquerades as a number of evil villains along the way, portrayed by Jake Mills, work well as a team, and later have their featured solo moments. Robin stars in "You Won't Succeed on Broadway," Lancelot turns disco Divo for "His Name is Lancelot," while Gallahad partners Lady of the Lake in "The Song that Goes Like This." Priscilla Fernandez plays the Lady in the Lake, born to be in the spotlight, especially in her second act "Diva's Lament." Jacob Hoffman, as Historian, Prince Herbert and several other featured roles, completes the principals. The home team ensemble adds juice to the show with their energetic dancing and singing.

As directed by Bruce Jordan, who has been responsible for several of FST's recent comic hits, including this summer's The Underpants, and choreographed by Lori Leshner, the evening proceeds at a frantic pace, jokes flying off hither and yon. If a few get lost in the pacing, well, there are so many that hardly anyone notices because they are laughing so hard. A detailed set by Jim Hunter and costumes that add to the merriment by Sarah Bertolozzi represent some of the most lavish ever seen on FST's stages. Lighting design by Dave Upton is unobtrusive but always effective and fine sound design by Marshall Simmons complete the technical side. Conductor Emily Croome keeps the musical end lively from Keyboard I.

Lovers of musicals have several excellent choices at area theaters: Purlie at WBTT, Show Boat at Asolo Rep, and now Florida Studio Theater puts the comedy into musical comedy with Monty Python's Spamalot.

Florida Studio Theater presents Spamalot through February 2, 2014, at The Gompertz Theater, 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org

Cast:
King Arthur: Patrick Noonan*
Sir Robin: Bruce Warren*
Sir Lancelot: Danny Bernardy*
Patsy: Kevin Loreque*
Sir Galahad: Gil Brady*
Sir Bedevere: Jake Mills
Historian, etc.: Jacob Hoffman*
Lady of the Lake: Priscilla Fernandez*
Ensemble: Vera Samuels, Rachael Scarr, heather Kopp*, Samantha Mills, Craig Weiskerger, John Scacchetti*, Tripp Fountain*, Carl Michael Wilson
* Denotes Member of Actor's Equity Association

Conductor/Keyboard I: Emily Croome
Keyboard 2: Johnathan C. Marro
Drums: Tony Bruno

Director: Bruce Jordan
Music Director: John Franceschina
Choreography: Lori Leshner
Scenic Design: Jim Hunter
Costume Design: Sarah Bertolozzi
Lighting Design: Dave Upton
Sound Design: Marshall Simmons
Production Stage Manager: Kelli Karen*


Photo: Maria Lyle

--William S. Oser



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