“I’m not dead yet!” is whispered, shouted, and sung throughout Phoenix Entertainment’s very much alive and engaging touring production of the Tony Award-winning 2005 Best Musical, now visiting DC for the third time and playing for one week only at the Warner Theatre. Filled with great actors, singers and dancers, this production of Monty Python’s Spamalot is a joy to behold.
Based on the outrageous 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot has a book by Monty Python member Eric Idle, and is filled with one-liners, kooky characters, non-stop laughter, and toe-tapping, joyful and breath-taking choreography by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon). and a melodic and funny score by Mr. Idle and John Du Prez (they have worked together since 1978). This is one musical where everything ‘clicks.’
Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur, his search for knights to seat at a round table, and their nearly endless search for the Holy Grail, a legendary chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper which supposedly possesses the power to heal the sick and wounded.
The Warner Theatre’s beautiful interior augments the wacky and imaginative costumes and Helen Hayes Award recipient James Kronzer‘s clever set design used in creating the mood for this show. Tim Hatley’s gorgeous costumes are made of materials that include raw silk and a specially-designed mud makeup on the peasants in their ‘autonomous collective,’ and hand-strung glass beads on the Lady of the Lake (Brittany Woodrow). Hatley has designed five stunning costumes for his ‘Lady.’
And there is even nuts, bolts, and molded plastics. A 45-pound cow is catapulted across the stage and onto one unfortunate actor, and one tiny rabbit that proves too much to handle. Crisp sound design is provided by Craig Cassidy, and projection design is provided by Elaine McCarthy.
Two local actors appear in this production. The aptly-named Arthur Rowan – making his US touring debut – nobly commands the stage as King Arthur. Rowan suits the role so well that one assumes he has spent years with a sword strapped to his hip pursuing one outrageous quest after another, all the while conveying the dignified, kingly manner Rowan – and his King Arthur- naturally exude. Joining Rowan as Lancelot is local favorite Adam Grabau who also plays King Ni, The French Taunter, and Tim the Enchanter. His rendition of “His Name is Lancelot” earned him many laughs.
Brittany Woodrow illuminates the stage as the diva Lady of the Lake. It is no joke when she wails about being offstage “for far too long” during the “Diva’s Lament” in the middle of Act Two. Woodrow’s powerful voice and equally strong presence guide King Arthur, his faithful servant, Patsy (played by a devoted Michael J. Berry), and the knights through one adventure after another, all in pursuit of the illusive grail. (And a shrubbery. And a damsel in distress, aka Herbert.) Her ‘duet’ “The Song That Goes Like This,”with Sir Galahad (Jacob L. Smith) had the audience in stitches. And so did Kasidy Devlin (Sir Robin), who also had the audience roaring when he burst into “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway…”
I commend the entire ensemble for their talent, enthusiasm, joy and energy, which was so contagious, so much that many members of the audience were humming the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” as they left the theatre and walked up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Your life will be brighter and happier when you watch this splendid production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. Don’t miss it!
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including a 15 minute intermission.
Monty Python’s Spamalot runs through March 18, 2012 at The Warner Theatre – 513 13th Street NW, in Washington, DC. Purchase your tickets online.
In keeping with the style of the Monty Python genre, adult humor and language is used throughout the show.
Listen to samples of the songs from Spamalot.
Watch video highlights of: