Monty Pythonites rejoice! Burlington’s Drury Lane Theatrical Productions has something for you. Boy, do they ever! Many of us who were teenagers in the mid ‘70’s will forever have a special place reserved in our hearts for “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, and the numerous film projects spawned by the television series. Among these, perhaps the most cherished is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975) featuring the unforgettably silly antics of Cleese, Idle, Palin and company, sending up the legendary Arthurian quest for the holy grail with general silliness and buffoonery galore. But be assured that you needn’t be an ardent Python fan to enjoy the musical adaptation of this film. “Monty Python's Spamalot” is a veritable smorgasbord offering seemingly endless servings of hilarity and razzmatazz.
“Spamalot” premiered on Broadway in 2005 under the auspices of no less a personage than original Pythonite Eric Idle, who penned the book (much of it adapted directly from the 1975 film) and lyrics. Music is by John Du Prez. In tribute to the film, where six actors played the majority of the parts, several actors play multiple roles in the musical version as well. However, the content of Spamalot differs significantly from its source material by grafting on an additional quest: that of bringing the king and his kooky knights to a faraway realm known as Broadway.
This takes the spoofing to a whole other level where power ballads from such legendary hits as “West Side Story”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Company” and much of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s oeuvre are lampooned/paid homage to, with as much gusto as the original movie satirized Arthurian legend.
Director Michael MacLennan has assembled a talented cast and crew who deliver the material with prodigious speed, audaciousness and chutzpah. From the opening narration and Fisch Schlapping Song through all the highlights, including the Bring Out Your Dead, French Taunting and Knights Who Say Ni scenes, the pacing never lags and the energy emanating from the stage is epic. The material calls for performers who can not only deliver the madcap material with aplomb, but who can also sing and dance with flair. The band under the masterful direction of Anne Barnshaw provides stellar support.
As King Arthur, Joe Balaz brings a mellow voiced likeability and hits the right comedic notes. Among the knights, standouts include Dave Osborn as Sir Galahad whose noble performance seems to grow in magnitude and stature as the play progresses and Evan Delvecchio-Williams as Sir Robin who endows the character with a cheeky merriment that shines.
Carolyn Campbell as the Lady of the Lake pretty much steals the show with her powerful alto and her effortless ability to switch from warbling operetta style singing to smoky cabaret chanteuse stylings to belting out a rock anthem or gospel number. And her comic chops have been finely honed. She’s backed up by the marvelous “Laker Girls” who are on point (if not “en pointe”) with every form of terpsichorean art from tap, to ballet to broadway and even Vegas showgirl styles of movement. As if that weren’t enough, they are vocally intrepid as well. If I had to pick a standout from among them it would have to be the wonderful Alexandra Chappell who radiates so much joy, she practically glows.
Other standouts in this eminently gifted cast must include Mitchell Munro’s dreamily hilarious Prince Herbert and Adam Holroyd’s outrageous French Taunter, whose performance brings the house down.
Kudos to all involved in this powerhouse production in which not a false note is hit. Particularly to Director MacLennan who has fearlessly embraced the value of knowing how to laugh at ourselves without fear of being politically incorrect. This marvelous production will surely appeal to most everyone’s inner 12-year-old. V
Drury Lane Theatrical Productions
2269 New St, Burlington, ON
Friday May 3 – Sunday Jun 2, 2019
Tickets: Call: (905)637-3979