Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Happens in Camelot

by Pa Rock
Theatre Aficionado

Last night I was in the audience of the Phoenix Theatre's splendid production of Spamalot, Monty Python's take on the legend of Camelot.    To those of us of a certain age,  the comedy troupe of Monty Python is synonymous with highly irreverent and wickedly funny skits.  Spamalot, written by Python's Eric Idle with music by John du Prez and Eric Idle, was a Monty Python experience in the fullest sense of the term.

The material was hysterical - off-beat sight gags and sharp one-liners were liberally sprinkled across the tale of King Arthur and his knights in pursuit of the Holy Grail - and it was all set to many wonderful songs.  Kimberly Hamby, who played the Lady of the Lake, belted out several songs that rocked the rafters, and the entire cast pranced, danced, and sang their hearts out.  It was the best staged musical that I have seen since Jersey Boys - and even more fun.

Other standout performers included Joseph Cannon as King Arthur, David Errigo, Jr. as Arthur's faithful sidekick, Patsy, Michael Andrako as Sir Galahad, Toby Yatso as Sir Lancelot, and Eddie Maldonado as Prince Herbert.

Being a Python experience, there was quite a bit of gender-bending including a very narcissistic Galahad and a very gay Lancelot.  (I overheard an older lady in the audience telling her friend during intermission that Galahad reminded her so much of her best girlfriend in high school.)  Lancelot gets off a great quip as he is preparing to marry Prince Herbert when he says, "A thousand years from now this will still be controversial!"

The set was amazing:  a mashup of medieval England and Las Vegas, enabling one character to proclaim, "What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot."  From a technical perspective, the Phoenix Theatre's production of Spamalot was a masterpiece.  The audience was transported out of Arizona and into the very strange and beautiful world of Monty Python.   The spell was broken, ever so slightly, when one member of the cast gave a shoutout to Sheriff Joe, though I am certain that this was not the type of play that our geriatric buffoon of a lawman would deign to sit through.

Spamalot was a great evening's respite from the mean reality of Arizona.    If one was blessed with the money and the time, it would be easy and fun to sit through every performance of this wonderful production!

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