Monty Python's SPAMALOT at Lakewood Theatre Company, Sept. 6 - Oct. 13, 2013 - Sampling from the Oregon Music News Review
Theater review: Monty Python’s ‘Spamalot’ a good fit and a sure hit for Lakewood Theater Company.
Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2013,
Photo by Triumph Photographers.
Those of us who couldn’t get enough of Monty Python and the Holy Grail back in the Dark Ages (aka the 1970s) were thrilled that Python member Eric Idle would resuscitate the hilarious film (with changes, of course) in a different form–the musical. Spamalot, currently playing in splendid Pythonesque silliness at the Lakewood Theatre Company in Lake Oswego, earned a Tony for Best Musical in the 2004-2005 season when it ran on Broadway under Mike Nichols’ direction, and it’s been merrily mounted all over the globe ever since.
This is its first Portland performance, directed with flair by Alan Shearman, and if the enthused response on opening night is any indication, it’s going to be a sure hit for the company. Amid Jeff Seats’ Terry Gilliam-inspired cartoon set, pieces move silently in and out of place, and the show seamlessly fits into the Lakewood space.
This irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, rife with Python’s surreal schoolboy humor, spoofs historic England, Las Vegas floor shows and, most gleefully, Broadway musicals. In the end, when King Arthur (Jay Pevney gives him a mock-pompous presence, although Arthur is plainly confused) has given up the grail and is roaming around despondently looking for a musical, he needs someone else to point out that, hey, he already is in one.
Shearman, who lives in Los Angeles but directs once a year at Lakewood, has cast the show very well, and the combination of voices, faces and body types add much to the show’s humor. If you know the movie, you’ll know that Arthur is joined by Sirs Lancelot, Galahad, Bedevere, Robin and others to seek the grail, bumping into various adventures, including cow-throwing Frenchmen, the sexy Lady of the Lake (and her Laker girls, cheerleaders every one), and the Knights that say Ni, both scary and ridiculous, who inhabit an expensive forest.
The cast, led by Pevney, is just having too much fun, and their characters are great goofy fun: Burl Ross as the cheerful Sir Lancelot (and in a variety of other roles) who plunges into misadventures of his own and finds true love in an unlikely place; rubber-faced Kevin-Michael Moore as Galahad’s mother, Sir Bedevere and others: the wonderful Norman Wilson as Sir Robin (who minstrels follow, merrily singing of eye-gougings and horrible tortures in “Brave Sir Robin”); and Joseph J. Klei as the effeminate Prince Herbert, who’s gotta sing, no matter what. Stephanie Heuston is a delight as the rather world-weary Lady of the Lake, poured into her plunging costume, and crooning the delicious “Diva’s Lament” (“Whatever Happened to My Part?”), a vocal complaint about her shrinking role (women’s roles in Monty Python sketches are usually scarce, stereotypical and not very meaty: Her sentiments are well-founded).
The girls here, besides Heuston, who do great work and embellish the show with its general silliness and errant plot are humble members of the chorus. In fact, the boy choristers are also fabulous– on cue, lively and articulate, all in top form under the smart, funny choreography of Erin Shannon, who also performs in the ensemble. Orchestra conductor Stephen Alexander pulls super performances out of his musicians, and when we get to sing along with the show’s best-known number “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” it’s the end to a perfect Python evening. Keep writing, Mr. Idle. Spamalot runs through October 13.
Click here to go to the Oregon Music News websitre for the review