Category Archive for: ‘Greg & Suzanne Angeo’

Monty Python’s Spamalot by Eric Idle & John DuPrez, 6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa CA

Barry Martin (left), Eric Weiss

 

Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo

(Photos by Eric Chazankin)

Stunningly Silly and Good For You, Too

We all know civilization needs silliness to survive. It’s essential to human life. But let’s face it – far too many people are scared to death of being silly. They need somebody else to do it for them so they can get their minimum daily requirement. The Monty Python troupe has been a premier provider of this vital nutrient for more than 40 years.  Through their landmark BBC series and films, it’s been said that they influenced comedy as much as the Beatles did music. They made sheer, unadulterated silliness the driving force behind their work. “Spamalot”, by Python veteran Eric Idle and composer John DuPrez, is their only stage musical comedy to date and one of their very best offerings, a guaranteed antidote for whatever ails us.

The original 2005 Broadway show was directed by Mike Nichols and received 3 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. During its initial run of 1575 performances it was seen by over two million people, a most definite sensation. Artistic Director Craig Miller and the crew at 6th Street rightly decided that this would be the ideal show for the kickoff of their new season “Journey With Us”.

The plot is a cheeky send-up of the already cheeky “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, a Python film from 1975, although there are jolly diversions from the original story. At its most basic, it’s a skewer-and-roast of the Arthurian legends. King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, the Lady of the Lake and the various Knights of the Round Table are on a haphazard quest for the Holy Grail. They encounter assorted mishaps along the way, snotty Frenchmen, and some characters so bizarre they defy description.

For the most part, the show is as tight as a drum with really professional bits of business, like a performer catching a hat and cane, launched from the wings, with suave assurance and not missing a beat. Sets and props are scooted on and off stage in medieval carts and baskets with nary a blink, a smooth and well-oiled machine. One small issue may be that some in the ensemble cast have not yet attained this polish. But the lead and supporting performers shine so brilliantly the reflection is shared by all.

Taylor Bartolucci DeGuilio

There are some truly outstanding musical numbers, especially “He’s Not Dead Yet” and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. As Lady of the Lake, the always amazing Taylor Bartolucci DeGuilio really has a chance to belt ‘em out and be the diva she was born to be. She steals the show in “Find Your Grail” and “Diva’s Lament”.  Her cohort King Arthur, underplayed to droll perfection by Barry Martin, ably serves as the almost-straight man, a foil to the constant buffoonery. But wait – who’s that guy following close behind Arthur everywhere he goes, clip-clopping a pair of coconut shells? It’s his faithful stooge Patsy, played with great comic sincerity by young Eric Weiss. Trevor Hoffmann (Sir Robin) has Broadway flair in his truly fine singing and dancing. His real tour-de-force is “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” performed with the ensemble cast. Another notable triple-threat player is Natalie Herman in two male parts: Not Dead Fred and Prince Herbert. She has a sweet, winsome quality and a remarkable voice.

Choreography is by the superb Alise Gerard, a Sonoma County native who is visiting from her new home in New York, where she went to try her luck on Broadway. The small orchestra’s horn section seems to dominate the proceedings, and with occasional off notes is a bit of a distraction. Maybe a slight adjustment in the sound would make a difference.

Miller keeps the faith: his savvy direction of “Spamalot” is mind-numbingly silly and high-spirited, irreverent enough to offend and inspire just about everyone. He has infused his cast and crew with the rare and elusive Pythonesque essence. It’s that special something that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it – a blend of surrealism, futility, courage, death and dismemberment. Oh, and silliness.

 

When: Now through September 22, 2013

8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Tickets: $15 to $35

Location: GK Hardt Theater at 6th Street Playhouse

52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA
Phone: 707-523-4185

Website: www.6thstreetplayhouse.com