‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 12, 2016

‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ is a wacky musical comedy for adults, created by Eric Idle who wrote the book and lyrics, with the music written by John Du Prez. Due to political sensitivity, some of the songs had to be changed in places like Israel and Korea.

The first production in 2005 won three Tony Awards, including ‘Best Musical’. Its initial season grossed $175 American million. ‘Spamalot – the Musical’ is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’

This energy packed show can be seen in the main theatre, Koorliny Arts Centre in Kwinana until Saturday 17th September. The 150-minute shows are at 8.00 pm, with a matinée at 2.00 pm.

 

Stephen Carr and Jethro Pidd’s set design was impressive; on each side of the stage was a limestone tower topped with a large turret window. The back wall was a limestone battlement and castle gate, that converted to a forest scene. Set beautifully dressed by Kate Smith.

The stage manager (Taneeka Loreto) had to be well organised, as there were an abundance of entrances and exits, often with numerous actors going off to one wing at a time. The crew (Chris Footer, Sam Taylor, Jayden Fern, Ben Steel, Tiarna Wills) were ‘invisible’ and most competent.

 

     It is England in 934 AD. The sound of horses’ hooves approaching can be heard, it is the bold King Arthur (Mitch Lawrence – magnificent voice) and his scruffy, Baldrick-like servant, Patsy (Jon Lambert). They are searching the land for a wife for the King. When going through a pestilence stricken village, where the dead are being taken away on carts by the mortician (Darren Gould); one poor man, Not-Dead-Fred (Tate Bennett) refuses to lie down and die. Even the vicar (Troy Plackett) and the flying Nun (Liam Gould) could not save the situation. Then there was the actor who was in the wrong musical, but kept appearing (Jayden Lyon).

     The King decides to gather a group of knights together, The Knights of the Round Table. In the street he finds a tatty, bearded woman (Adam Dean) and her son, Denis, whom he renames Galahad (Joshua Towns). Then he finds Sir Robin (James Massey) an audacious knight, who is incontinent at the slightest fright, accompanied by his manservant (Jarrad Thomas). Shortly after they find Galahad’s rival-to-be, the muddled Sir Lancelot (Carl Grice).

     As the knights wander the countryside in search of a potential Queen, out of the freshwater comes a troupe of lackadaisical water nymphs, the Lakettes (Emily Geling, Sara Stanford-Bluntish, Malia Bennett, Eibhlis Newman) and their leader, the Lady of the Lake (Rachel Monamy – what a voice).

     Whilst travelling through mysterious lands, they meet a French mime artist (Alex White) who gives them wise advice.

 

There was a brief cameo appearance by David Stapleton, an audience member – Now a STAR.

 

The marvellous director, Jethro Pidd, has chosen an outstanding cast. The lead singers had perfect pitch and could belt out a song with feeling, whether with sensitivity or humour; each of them could blow ‘The Voice’ apart with talent. Headsets perfectly controlled by Mishka Miller and experienced sound operator Alex Coutts-Smith gave his best.

Jethro also showed immense flare in guiding each and every cast member, with their comedic delivery. Even the singers and dancers, who are normally expected to simply smile whilst performing, had some whacky actions to cope with. Eric Idle’s songs are crammed with humour, so clear diction was essential and delivered.

Jethro proved that not only can he lead, but he can perform as well as he demands. His screwball, animated performance in the ‘Interval’ was hilarious, I am amazed he didn’t suffocate in the process.

The vivacious choreography (Anita Telkamp, Sam Nielson) was astonishing, it was audacious and packed with energy, covering many genres; whether acrobatics, tap, Can-Can or comedy, the dancing was faultless. The costumes for this type of production are often cardboard armour and show signs of economy; however, these costumes (Lara’s Clothing in Warnbro) were immaculate. The chainmail looked real, the tabards beautifully sewn and the dance costumes bright and stylish.

Musical Director, Taui Pinker, and his large band were in a room adjacent to the stage, this allowed for perfect musical balance. The musicians were Taui, with Kate McIntosh and Andrew Dobosz on keyboard; Talitha Dunn and Wayne Griffiths on reed instruments; Jeni Stevens, Paul Marion and Warren Bracken on brass; Vlad Sturdy, guitar and Chris Ingram, bass; with Luke Casserly and Andrea van Graan on percussion. This talented group also supplied perfectly co-ordinated sound effects and soundscape.

The lighting design was complex, yet smooth and slick thanks to Lee and Joshua Germain.

This show is a musical, so the musicians and singing must be quality – they were superb. Then it is a riotous comedy, with laughs in every song and throughout the script, so high-class comedy skills were essential – EVERYONE had magnificent delivery. It had to be bright and colourful, and thanks to the stunning costumes, the show sparkled. A total success that is rounded up with a classic Monty Python song.

A great deal of praise must be given to the Kwinana Council for supporting this show.

This hilarious and energy packed production is a ‘must see’, not just for Monty Python fans but for anyone that fancies a great night out. However, there is one minor problem – some shows in this 250-seat theatre, have almost sold out already. BRILLIANT.