Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Broadway Center Stage: Monty Python's Spamalot
Also see Susan's recent reviews of Good Bones and Here There Are Blueberries
Spamalot, which received the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, is an extravaganza of silliness and spectacle "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Monty Python member Eric Idle (book, lyrics, and co-composer with John Du Prez). It not only romps through the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but also examines the traditions of musical theater, including a few call outs to specific productions (such as the staging of a song titled "The Song That Goes Like This") and a lot of self-referential moments.
Director and choreographer Josh Rhodes has packed this production with nonstop movement and a company led by some of Broadway's most accomplished farceurs. James Monroe Iglehart is a dominating presence as King Arthur, who holds onto his dignity as all manner of nonsense unrolls around him. Alex Brightman is hilarious as slightly crazed Sir Lancelot, whose chivalric acts get a bit excessive at times and who eventually gets his own sequin-encrusted production number. Michael Urie is the wide-eyed Sir Robin, whose knowledge of Broadway lore as opposed to military tactics leads to the triumphant final curtain. Rob McClure takes on many roles, including a stuffy history professor, a dying man who refuses to die, and a sweet-natured prince whose family lives in a swamp. Matthew Saldivar is adorably long-suffering as King Arthur's servant Patsy, while Nik Walker ably plays both godly Sir Galahad (first name Dennis) and a blustering knight.
And then there's Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as the Lady of the Lake, the diva who gave Arthur his kingdom and then has to spend much of the second act offstage. She gets the most eye-popping costumes (original design by Tim Hatley, coordinated by and additional design by Jen Caprio) and powers through her songs. The women of the chorus ("Laker Girls") also live up to the show's concept of Camelot as a place not unlike Las Vegas.
Rhodes dispatches his actors on a set adapted from Hatley's original by Paul Tate dePoo III. Much of the scenic scope comes from dePoo's lavish use of projections, from a massive iron gate (billed as the Mighty Portcullis) to shimmering night skies and abstract forms in deep jewel tones. Completing the effect are Cory Pattak's lighting design and Haley Parcher's sound design.
Music director John Bell conducts members of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra from a bandstand raised above the castle walls.
The Broadway Center Stage production of Monty Python's Spamalot runs through May 21, 2023, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes