Photos by Von Presley Studios
|Megan Anderson as The Lady of the Lake|
TCR's production, playing now through February 15th, is quite effective. It's everything a musical comedy should be: big, energetic, and funny. It's obvious that they're having a blast, and it's just as obvious that they've put a lot of work into it. It's easy with a piece like this to fall into the trap of just quoting lines, but all the scenework is thoughtful and dedicated. Leslie Charipar's direction keeps the comedy coming, and there are some great bits of banter as well as some hilarious visual gags.
The costumes, lovingly ripped off from Tim Hatley's original design - actually, lovingly ripped off of the original actors, as these rented costumes were used in the original West End production - are wonderful. They're colorful, striking, and full of subtle (and not-so-subtle) gags. They're an improvement, in places, on the original film; Python members have gone on record complaining about odd design choices such as Michael Palin's giant helmet as the speaker for the Knights Who Say "Ni," which covered up any facial expression he could make. On stage, Casey Prince's helmet is wide open and we can see all the funny stuff he is doing. There are also a lot of great ensemble gags with the costumes, as when the doors of the French castle open to reveal an anachronistic set of French people from different periods of history.
The ensemble is excellent, working well together and creating lots of fun character moments. Highlights include Cameron Byrd's over-the-top preacher and Gregg Smith's historian with the stiff upper lip - but Ken Van Egdon takes the cake with his hilarious rendition of the abusive Frenchman who mercilessly taunts our heroes. Everyone supports each other and throws themselves into their performance, and it's a hoot to watch.
Aaron Canterbury's choreography is clever and energetic. There are times when the stage does seem a little bare, as in the beginning of "Knights of the Round Table" and "You Won't Succeed on Broadway;" both these numbers seem like they build very slowly. However, there is a good payoff in both cases, especially the end of "You Won't Succeed on Broadway." There was a bit of oddness in the second act, when there was some tapdancing with no tap shoes; it was unclear whether this was a choreography issue or a costume one.
|Megan Anderson as the Lady of the Lake, Jon Day as King|
Arthur, and Adam Burnham as Patsy.
Adam Burnham (who plays Patsy) and Jon Day (King Arthur) are paired well. Burnham plays off of Day's dry wit and aloof arrogance with his deadpan gestures and precise comic timing. There are moments when Patsy threatens to steal the show, but what's most impressive is how much of a team player Burnham is; often a simple motion, very genuine and in-the-moment, can add some great texture to an already funny set piece.
This is a very funny show performed by a very funny cast. Whether you're a die-hard Python fan or this is your first fish-slapping dance, you'll find something to laugh about in Spamalot. The show runs at TCR through February 15; tickets here.