Spamalot Is Fun-a-lot By Patrick McElhinney

Photo by Elaine Funk
Photo by Elaine Funk

Spamalot is fun-a-lot.

Okay, that’s been used before — a lot.  But there’s no question that the book and music of the 2005 musical comedy will guarantee an evening of just plain fun.  And director Ron Watson and choreographer Jesee Smart and the cast and crew at the Palace Theatre in Georgetown are providing a  highly commendable rendition of the 2005 Tony Award-wining musical that audience members will find more than satisfies that guarantee.

Monty Python’s Spamalot is a spoof of the King Arthur legend and many other cultural icons, including other Broadway musicals.  Based on the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it has translated remarkably well into versions seen in countries around the world.  It had a run of more than 1,500 performances on Broadway in the original production.  To try and explain the plot is difficult.  Anyway, part of the fun — there’s that word again — is trying to follow the twists and turns King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table  must endure in their quest for the Holy Grail.

A description of one scene is illustrative of the madcap comedy.  King Arthur and his knights approach a castle belonging to a French lord.  A guard is not impressed by the king and insults him and his entourage with wonderfully amusing jests and gestures.  Arthur offers the Frenchmen a gift of a “Trojan Rabbit” — but fail to climb inside before the Frenchmen retrieve the gift.  They are finally repulsed in their attack when one of their number is crushed by a cow hurled by catapult from behind the castle walls.  This zaniness, executed in a wonderful synergy of dialogue, cast, set, props, is typical of the entire production.  It truly is a proverbial “laugh a minute” production.

Director Watson has put together a superior cast of singers and dancers.  Rick Felkins plays King Arthur with

photo by Rudy Ximenex
photo by Rudy Ximenex

excellent comedic timing and good voice.  His sidekick, Patsy, Matt Gauck, is appropriately long-suffering.  David Sray, in multiple roles as Dennis, Sir Galahad, and Herbert’s Father is noteworthy for his excellent performance, as is Arron Crowley, also assigned to multiple roles, especially that of Prince Herbert.  Phil Rodriguez, in his multiple roles, particularly as Lancelot and the French Taunter, adds significantly to the success of the production.  Emily Niswonger, making her first Georgetown appearance, plays the Lady of the Lake; she was the victim of a faulty microphone, but her stunning voice and delivery came through, especially in the charming and amusing  solo, “Whatever Happened to My Part?”

As always, the ensemble and dance company were enthusiastic and imaginative.  The production numbers were, indeed, productions.  Look especially for “Knights of the Round Table” and “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” as examples of what makes a musical comedy a unique theatrical form.

Austin Kimble, as musical director, conductor, and lead keyboardist, and his five fellow musicians provided a musical accompaniment reminiscent of a full pit orchestra.  Some of the success must obviously go to the music’s arranger, but the excellent rendering of the score is to the credit of Mr. Kimble and his colleagues.

Kudos also must go to the costumes credited to Ramona Haas, of A Cut Above Costumes, and to the sets created by director Watson, credited as set designer as well, and Barb Jernigan, scenic artist.  The costumes were lush, and the sets cleverly executed and ambitious.

Is it a perfect production?  Of course not.  It’s community theater, not Broadway.  There were technical flaws, especially with annoyingly unreliable microphones.  But it’s community theater that is a cut above, with a guarantee of a delightful evening of just plain fun.  Ignore the imperfections — they are there just for us pedants.

Monty Python’s Spamalot continues at the Palace Theatre, in Georgetown, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m., through May 17.


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