note: entire contents copyright 2014 by Richard Pacheco
If you despise politically correct as much as I do, and even if you don’t, you will love “Spamalot” at Theatre by the Sea. It is an vigorously energetic, spastic, irreverent romp that is bawdy and sheer delirious fun from beginning to end. It is a sheer delight, not to be missed. The performances are vivid, with impeccable comic timing punctuated by some strong and at times stunning singing. It is fall down funny with side splitting laughter all around. It is high camp in high gear without going overboard.
It is adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, With the book and lyrics by Python member Eric Idle, the music is by Idle and John Du Perez.The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004–2005 season and received 14 Tony Award nominations. During its initial run of over 1,500 performances it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million.
This is all magnetically brought together by the talented directing and choreography of Billy Sprague Jr. He has nearly made a career of directing this show, doing in many times at various theaters.
Al Bundonis is the hapless, clueless King Arthur, who blunders his way through everything and manages to succeed in spite of himself and in large part due to the assistance of his dedicated and diligent trusty sidekick, Patsy (Brad Bradley). Arthur strives to be regal cut just can’t pull it off, at one point struggle to find simple words to say something to Patsy, but cannot without his sidekick’s help. Bundonis is a delight with exquisite comics timing and strong voice.
Haley Swindle is the Lady of the Lake, a smart, sassy, often impatient woman with a real fondness for Arthur, blundering or not. She is an amazing singer and shows her stuff several times like with “The Diva’s Lament,” which she belts out with power and pizzazz. She also does a great impersonation of Cher at one point.
Brad Bradley as Patsy is a gem, with his coconuts to mimic horses’ hooves and non nonsense attitude I the face of danger and challenges that Arthur cannot do without. Bradley is excellent in the role.
Michael Andrako is Sir Galahad and shines when he teams up with Swindle in their duet “The Song That Goes Like This,” a wonderful parody of the sentimental Broadway ballad.
Sean Bell shines in multiple roles including Not Dead Fred and the effeminate Herbert. He sings “I’m Not Dead Yet” with flair, gusto and comic finesse. Radio talk show host and former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci gets to be the voice of God
The rest of the large and abundant cast are top notch, playful and skilled throughout. Songs like “You Won’t succeed on Broadway is hilarious as it proposes you cannot have a successful Broadway show without Jews in it. “His Name is Lancelot,” sung by Herbert and Lancelot, Jonathan Gregg is funny. There are too many gems here to list, but all in good fun and no target left unturned. With references to “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Man of La Mancha” he wit is raucous and unrelenting.
There are many Monty Python gems peppered through the show like the Killer Rabbit and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch not to mention the knights who say NI and the Black Knight who is hacked to pieces but refuses to yield. Or the opening scene where villagers thought the narrator was referring to Finland not England, and launch into the “Fisch Schlapping Song” in Finnish costumes. All is fun galore. Or the off the wall and truly wacky conversation about how Patsy came up with coconuts in medieval England
Bill Sprague Jr. direction and choreography are superb. The dancing is full of spunk and sassy, sheer fun on all occasions. His crisp direction keeps everything clever and robust. Numbers like “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” are fun and sassy.
Cassie Lent’s set design and sheer delight with all the hallmarks of Monty Python graphics for the television and the film, a hint of the Victorian and Pop art combined. Some of the standouts are the feet of God and the hand that pokes in from one side. The original costumes and wig design by Kurt Alger are right on the mark.
It is a rollicking good time you don’t want to miss, fun and feisty.
“Spamalot” runs through Sept. 7 at Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Rd., Matunuck. Tickets are $42-$62. Call (401) 782-8587, or visit theatrebythesea.com.