Spamalot is a musical “lovingly ripped off”, or so the tagline of the poster tells us, from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As a massive John Cleese and Monty Python fan, I was instantly laughing. The lyrics and book by Eric Idle, another Python member, grab many of the classic bits from the film and somehow manage to add much more. The jovial score by John Du Prez (Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life, A Fish Called Wanda) brilliantly reinforces the tone of the irreverent performance.
You don’t have to be a Python fan to enjoy Spamalot, the show also takes a hilarious shot at Broadway. Numbers such as “The Song that Goes Like This” and “The Diva’s Lament”, absolutely knocked out of the park by the lovely Susan Gilmour, are very tongue-in-cheek with the “typical” conventions of a musical.
While the entire cast and ensemble give commendable performances, the real shining star is Farren Timoteo as Not Dead Fred, Prince Herbert and the Historian. Timoteo’s timing is brilliant, especially in “Not Dead Yet”, and his characterization as Prince Herbert had the audience falling out of their seats.
Cory Sincennes’ sets stay true to the traditional Python imagery, one set piece is even described sarcastically in the show as a “very expensive looking forest”. Of course I have to mention director Bob Baker, a fixture in the Edmonton theater scene, who, as always, delivered. Although, between you and me Mr. Baker, you have become a sort of “Meryl Streep” of Edmonton, we all know you are the best, but maybe we should let some other people win awards.
Spamalot is truly successful, not only because of it’s jokes, but because it is fun. The cast always seems to be having a great time. This creates a palpable atmosphere of entertainment in the theater and on several occasions sets it up for excellent audience interaction. This is especially true during an instance in the second act that I cannot wait for you to experience.
Spamalot rounds out the Citadel’s season in the Mainstage and runs until May 19th.
Photograph courtesy of David Cooper
Actors pictured from left to right: John Ullyatt, Kevin Aichele, Alex McCooeye, Russell Roberts