Monty Python's SPAMALOT Delivers the Raunchy Goodness at Cape Rep; Absurdity Sees New Heights
By: Lindsey Crane, November 8, 2012
Photo Courtesy of Cape Rep Theatre - King Arthur, played by Mark Woodard, and the Lady of the Lake, by Trish LaRose, star in the Cape Rep Theatre's rendition of "Monty Python's SPAMALOT."
My initial exposure to the comedic realm ruled by the ensemble Monty Python, during tenth grade history class, was a memorable one. To make a long story short, I physically left the classroom while viewing “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in a desperate attempt to regain my composure following the outrageously funny Rabbit of Caerbannog scene.
Currently, the question at hand is: Will Cape Rep Theatre’s production of “Monty Python’s SPAMALOT,” a Broadway musical that bills itself as being “lovingly ripped off” from ...the Holy Grail, elicit such similar passion from its audience?
Judging from the crowd’s, ahem, animated response to opening night last week, Director Kristin McLaughlin and her team satisfy the expectations for jocularity for perhaps both devoted Python fanatics and those not-yet educated in the British comedy troupe’s antics alike.
On with the Show…
Beginning with a typical Pythonian misunderstanding concerning just which country the historian is discussing, the supporting ensemble launches into the musical’s first number, “Finland/Fisch Schlapping Dance,” and sets the stage for the absurdity to follow. Scott Storr, resident musical director for the theater, is to be recognized for his cast’s consistently on-point deliverance of lyrics.
Just as “the Holy Grail” parodies the legend of King Arthur and his knights’ quest to find the coveted vessel of biblical proportions, “SPAMALOT” mocks Broadway shows via mostly original musical interludes. From the French “Taunter,” to “the Black Night,” to the aforementioned “Rabbit of Caerbannog,” The Cape Rep crew guides the audience with musical ease through the myriad quintessential vignettes from its influential film.
The bare-bones, Brewster theater itself—replete with exposed beams, resonating acoustics, and a slightly chilly air—enhances the setting of England circa 932 A.D. Actor Mark Woodard, in his Cape Rep debut, plays the role of the chivalrous (albeit clueless) King Arthur, and it is obvious that he is the king, as he “hasn’t got shit all over him;” he wields an appropriately regal air. Kudos also goes to the king’s coconut-clacking sidekick, Patsy, played endearingly by Falmouth actor Cleo Zani, who has the role of the king’s loyal servant down (excuse the pun) pat.
Joining the good king in his quest to find the Holy Grail are his quirky five Knights of the Round Table, a quest imposed upon by the Lady of the Lake, authoritatively played by Trish LaRose. LaRose, no stranger to Cape Rep, displays her competent voice in the compelling “Find Your Grail.” However, the Mariah Carey-like theatrics towards the end of the solo seem a tad irksome. Perhaps this ploy was just a “SPAMALOT” parody of modern-day divas?
Throughout the musical, several actors seamlessly juggle multiple characters. Zachary Brown, primarily playing Sir Lancelot, deserves particular credit for his priceless depictions of various characters, which include the French Taunter; the intimidating head Knight of Ni; and Tim the Enchanter, who warns the men of the murderous rabbit—while hilariously suspended mid-air from a pulley. Other notable performances include Andrew Garret Karl’s spot-on rendering of the effeminate, whiney Prince Herbert, and Jared Hagen’s steadfast portrayals of Sir Galahad, Herbert’s father, and the Black Knight. The collective ensemble should also be commended for their inexhaustible energy throughout the show.
Standout numbers—and there are many—include “Whatever Happened to My Part?” in which LaRose dramatically laments the temporary neglect of the Lady of the Lake’s role in the play; “His Name is Lancelot,” featuring Karl (as Prince Herbert) and the collective ensemble, a Village People-esque song and dance performed in response to Sir Lancelot’s questioned sexual orientation; and the wonderfully satiric “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” perhaps the musical pinnacle of the evening, marvelously bellowed by Zani and Woodard. In true SPAMALOT spirit, everyone eventually joins in on this latter tune.
While all of the so-called peasants managed to remain present in the theater during their fits of hilarity, the cast of Cape Rep’s SPAMALOT nonetheless delivers a delightfully campy time for everyone, whether Python die-hard or novice. At the very least, SPAMALOT will have you belting out these prophetic lines from “…the Bright Side of Life” for days on end:
Life’s a piece of shit,
When you look at it.
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true,
You’ll see it’s all a show,
Keep ‘em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you!