Theatre Mirror Reviews - "SPAMALOT"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone



”SPAMALOT”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone



The current musical extravaganza at North Shore Music Theatre is Monty Python's "Spamalot." It is a new musical lovingly ripped from the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." "Spamalot" retells the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It obviously contains fish slapping, a musical tribute to Broadway, flying cows, killer rabbits, shrubbery, French people and of course, Spam. The Broadway show opened on March 17, 2005 and ran over 1500 performances. It received 14 Tony Award nominations, winning three of them including Best Musical. King Arthur travels through the countryside with his faithful servant, Patsy. Along the way they meet Lancelot who is very violent, killing a man when the audience first meets him, Robin, a collector of plague victims, who likes to sing and dance, Galahad who with his mother are political radicals, Bevedere who likes to fart a lot, and the effeminate, Prince Herbert, who supplies a surprising twist to the well known story. The Knights along with the mysterious Lady of the Lake who helps them on their quest for the Holy Grail and most importantly to be in a musical. Billy Sprague Jr. expertly directs and choreographs this wild and wacky musical while Jesse Warkentin conducts a eleven piece orchestra. Jesse taught the cast the gorgeous melodies and soaring harmonies in the musical numbers. Billy also provides his cast with many marvelous dance styles including a can can, a flamenco number, a tap dance that will knock your socks off, a vaudeville type of dance and the bottle dance from "Fiddler on the Roof" to name a few. They obtain a spontaneous standing ovation from the appreciative audience who loves this high energy musical from start to finish. This is the must see musical of this or any season.

Billy infuses his cast with high energy and gives them many clever bits of shtick to perform to keep the audience in stitches all night long. The music score is fabulous and contains beautiful melodies and clever, witty lyrics. Jesse obtains a brilliant performance from the cast especially in the group numbers, "Knights of the Round Table", "Run Away" and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" finale which stops the show with merriment. The harmonies are fabulous especially in "All For One". Jesse just finished an extremely successful run as musical director of "Sister Act" at Theatre by the Sea. The beautiful set is by Michael Harvey while the multitude of gorgeous costumes is by Mark Nagle. Leading this huge cast is Al Bundonis as King Arthur. He commands the stage in this role with his enormous amount of dialogue. Al displays his powerful voice in "King Arthur's Song", "All For One", "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and "I'm All Alone" with Patsy, "Come With Me" with the Lady of the Lake and "All for One" with the Knights. I first reviewed Al as Horace in "Hello, Dolly" at TBTS back in 2010 and he always delivers a splendid portrayal of every role I have seen him in. Brad Bradley is marvelous as Patsy, King Arthur's squire. He last played Bert in "Mary Poppins" winning many accolades for doing so. He sings "King Arthur's Song", "All For One", does a terrific tap dance in "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" which stops the show, and "I'm All Alone" with Al. Brad and Al have many funny one liners that they deliver perfectly and funny scenes including the shrubbery one with the Knights of Ni as well as the meeting of each of the Knights. Whether they ever find the grail or not has to be seen to be believed. Let me just say it involves a member of the audience who is included in the crazy and wild shenanigans of this madcap musical as well as spam which leads to much laughter and thorough enjoyment.

Jonathan Gregg delivers a strong performance as Lancelot. He runs roughshod over everyone around him as this butch, brutal man who keeps trying to kill Not Dead Fred. Later on the audience discovers that Lancelot may not be as butch as he might seem because it comes out of left field. This revelation leaves the audience in stitches once again while laughing uncontrollably. Jonathan displays his powerhouse baritone voice in "He's Not Dead Yet", "All For One", "Always Look on the Bright Side" and the show stopping "His Name is Lancelot" where he does a flamenco style dance. Lance's secret is revealed in a hysterical sequence with Prince Herbert. Jonathan also plays Knight of Ni, the French Taunter and Tim, the Enchanter. As the Knight of Ni, Jonathan did a clever parody of Trump. Talking about being braggadocious, building a wall around Camelot and describing things as HUGE. Hilarious updating of the current political situation written by Jonathan. J.D. Daw is fantastic as Galahad. He returns in triumph to NSMT where I last reviewed him as the tenor in "Funny Girl earlier this season and I first reviewed him here as Jinx in "Forever Plaid" back in 2007. Galahad and his mother trash talk and argue loudly with Arthur and Patsy on their first meeting. One of his funniest songs is with the Lady of the Lake, "The Song That Goes Like This" especially hilarious is the section where they change key in the middle of the song. J. D. uses his strong tenor voice in "All for One" and "Bright Side." Galahad's transformation from country bumpkin to Knight of the Round Table is extremely comical with the Lady of the Lake and the cheerleaders. He also portrays Prince Herbert's mean father who wants his tres gay son to marry a woman. He delivers the goods in both roles.

James Beaman is dynamite as Sir Robin who wants to be in show business. I last reviewed him as Max in "The Sound of Music' here. His two standout numbers are "Brave Sir Robin" which is expertly sung by Sean Bell where the others prove that he is the opposite of being brave when he shits his pants when being scared and especially in "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" which turns into a big production number. One of the dances in this number is a parody of the bottle dance from "Fiddler" because you must have Jews in it for a show to be successful on Broadway. James has many hilarious one liners and he makes them hit pay dirt all night long. He is a dead ringer for David Hyde Pierce. Two of the biggest scene stealers in a show of scene stealers are Sean Bell as Sir Herbert and Not Dead Fred and the gorgeous blonde Haley Swindal as the Lady of the Lake. Sean prances around as the tres gay Herbert winning constant and prolonged laughter from the crowd at his brilliant antics. He displays his powerful tenor voice in "Where Are You?" and "Here Are You." The latter is when he finally finds the man of his dreams to escape from his hard hearted father who wants to force him to marry a woman. When Herbert finds the man of his dreams, he is dressed up ala Carmen Miranda with fruit on his hat. Sean is also a hoot in "Not Dead Yet" where he plays Fred who seemingly can't be killed which is a comic gem of a song. His tenor voice and falsetto voice are perfect for this part. He reminds you of Christian Borle.

Haley who recently had a beautiful baby girl three months ago with her husband, is phenomenal as this spunky no nonsense woman who bears no resemblance to her counterpart in "Camelot." She wears a red wig and sings some of the best numbers in this show including "The Song That Goes Like This" with J.D. and Al. Haley also sings "Find Your Grail" when she encourages Arthur and his men to go into battle to find it while dressed like a nightclub singer imitating Cher, Judy Garland and Idina Menzel as well as singing the show stopping "Whatever Happened to My Part" in Act 2. Haley laments not having anything to do until this number. Richard Vida also shines as the constantly farting Bevedere as well as Galahad's trash talking mother where he delivers many funny one liners in both roles. Kudos to the whole singing and dancing chorus in this sensational high energy Broadway style musical. Be sure to catch "Spamalot" at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre before the Knights joust their way out of town. Bill always brings the highest quality to all his musical presentations and this one is one more feather in his cap. He also gets a chance to be the voice of God who speaks to Arthur and his Knights.

SPAMALOT (27 September to 9 October)
North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA
1(978)232-7200 or www.nsmt.org




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