The last musical of Theatre by the Sea's 81st season is Monty Python's "Spamalot." It is a new musical lovingly ripped off from the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." "Spamalot" retells the legend 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 has flatulence and the effeminate, Prince Herbert, who adds a surprising twist to the storyline. They along with the 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 the wild and wacky show while Esther Zabinski conducts a 7 piece orchestra and taught the cast the gorgeous melodies and soaring harmonies in the songs. Billy also supplies his cast with many terrific dance styles including a tap dance that will knock your socks off, can can, a flamenco number, a vaudeville type dance and the bottle dance from "Fiddler" to name a few. The obtain a spontaneous standing ovation as their reward a on superb job by one and all.
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 musical score is fantastic and contains beautiful melodies and clever, witty lyrics. Esther 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 its merriment. The beautiful set is by Cassandra Lentz with the gorgeous costumes by Kurt Alger. Leading this huge cast is Al Bundonis as King Arthur, who returns to TBTS having last played Horace in "Hello, Dolly" back in 2010. He returns in triumph and commands the stage in this role with his enormous amount of dialogue. Al displays his voice in "King Arthur's Song", "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. Brad Bradley is terrific as Patsy. He sings "King Arthur's Song", "All for One" and does a marvelous tap dance in "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and "I'm All Alone" with the King. Brad and Al have many hilarious one liners and comic scenes including the shrubbery one with the Knights of Ni and the meeting of each of the knights. Whether the grail is ever found or not has to be seen to be believed. Let me just say that spam is involved with leads to much laughter.
Jonathan Gregg delivers a strong performance as Lancelot. His first entrance is gangbusters as he runs roughshod over everyone around him as he tries to kill Not Dead Fred. Later on the audience discovers a secret about Lancelot that is so out of left field and is hilarious that it leaves you once again laughing uncontrollably. Jonathan displays his strong 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". Jonathan does a flamenco style dance. Lance's secret is revealed in a very hysterical sequence with Prince Herbert. He also plays the comic roles of the Knight of Ni, the French Taunter and Tim the Enchanter. Michael Andrako is wonderful as Sir Galahad. He and his mother trash talk and loudly disagree with Arthur and Patsy on their first meeting. One of his funniest songs is the duet with Lady of the Lake, "The Song That Goes Like This" especially hilarious is the section where they change the key in the song. Michael also sings "All for One" and "Always Look on the Bright Side". Galahad's transformation from country bumpkin into Knight of the Round Table is very comical with the Lady of the Lake and the cheerleaders. He also plays prince Herbert's mean father who wants him to marry a woman. He does a great job
Harry Bouvy is dynamite as Sir Robin who wants to be in show business. His two standout numbers are "Brave Sir Robin" where the knights show he is the opposite of being brave and in "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" which turns into a huge production number. One of the dances in this song is a parody of the bottle dance from "Fiddler" because Robin states for a show to succeed on Broadway you need to have Jews in it. Harry has many one liners and makes them hit pay dirt all night long. Two of the biggest scene stealers in a show of scene stealers are Sean Bell as Sir Herbert and Not Dead Fred and gorgeous blonde Haley Swindal as Lady of the Lake. Sean prances about as tres gay Herbert, displaying his powerful tenor voice in "Where Are You" and "Here Are You". The latter is when he finds the man of his dreams, finally escaping from his hard hearted father who wants to force him to marry a woman. Sean is also hilarious as Fred when Lancelot finally kills him in "Not Dead Yet".
Haley is dynamite as this spunky no-nonsense woman and wears a red wig in this role. She has some of the best numbers in the show including "The Song That Goes Like This" with Galahad and Al. Haley also sings "Find Your Grail" when she encourages Arthur and the Knights to go into battle where she sings like a Vegas singer imitating Judy Garland, Cher and Idina Menzel as well as the show stopping Act 2 number "Whatever Happened to My Part?". Haley laments not having anything to do until this number. She also sings "The Song That Goes Like This" with King Arthur. Tom Gleadow also shines as the constantly farting Bevedere as well as Galahad's trash talking mother. He has many funny one liners. Kudos to the whole cast and crew for an outstanding job on this contemporary musical. Be sure to catch "Spamalot" at Theatre by the Sea, before the Knights joust their way out of town. Press night isn't complete without the delicious buffet prepared at the Bistro by the Sea by Duane Crowe and his lovely wife, Karleen. I had dinner at the Bistro, consisting of delicious seared cod, mashed potatoes and steamed zucchini. It is the perfect way to end a season of rollicking good fun and the way to look forward to the 82nd season's stellar line-up of musicals, "Smokey Joe's Cafe", "My Fair Lady" with Charles Shaughnessy from The Nanny, "Disney's The Little Mermaid" and Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein".