Riverside Center Dinner Theater presents Monty Python’s Spamalot, based on the beloved motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail. With Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle and Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, this goofy spoof is a huge delight! Dann Dunn directs a superb ensemble of talented and humorous singers and dancers and choreographs this hysterical production, with musical direction by Jason J. Michael.
Scenic Designer Brian Barker frames the stage with stone castle towers and a drawbridge gate, and these prove to be the base setting throughout, with bigger set pieces being introduced when needed. Lighting Designer Anthony Cantrel and Projection Designer Benjamin Burke enhance the settings throughout the show, my favorite being a Camelot that is done up in a flashy Las Vegas style. Costume Coordinator Gaye Law gets to have entirely too much fun with the ensemble’s costumes, drawing inspiration from a wide variety of different cultures and themes (Laker Cheerleaders and Broadway Showgirls, to name a few). However, my favorite costumes were made for the diva-inspired character of Lady of the Lake, who looked like an over-styled mermaid on her way to prom.
When King Arthur (Alan Hoffman) sets out to assemble his Knights of the Round Table, he is met with quite a bit of resistance. From a hysterical argument that derails into a lengthy disagreement about whether or not a swallow can carry a coconut (it’s all about weight ratio between bird and fruit and wait—what were we talking about?) to a trudge through a plague-ridden village ( “I Am Not Dead Yet” sung by Chris Withers, is comedic gold), King Arthur finally assembles his Round Table with the help of the Lady of the Lake (the powerhouse Victoria Mayo, in one of the best casting decisions ever made). After a knock-out performance of “ Knights of the Round Table,” Sir Belvedere (Ian Lane), Sir Robin (Michael Windsor), Sir Lancelot (Calvin David Malone), Sir Galahad (Chad Fornwalt), and Patsy, King Arthur’s put-upon servant ( a wonderful performance by Jeremy Michael Lagunas) team up in search of The Holy Grail.
The search is not an easy one. The knights encounter all sorts of woe some adventures, included being taunted by a French guard (Calvin David Malone as a clear crowd favorite in this role) and facing an adversary who refuses to admit defeat (Chad Fornwalt as the famous Black Knight). My favorite numbers were the wonderfully choreographed “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” and “Find Your Grail,” in which Victoria Mayo shows off a truly expert vocal range. Will the knights ever find their grail?
Spamalot does not take itself seriously. At all. In fact, it often suspends your disbelief to remind you that, yes, you are watching a show that is a bit ridiculous. After the Lady of the Lake has been offstage for quite some time, she interrupts the show to sing a song called “Diva’s Lament (What Ever Happened To My Part?)“ This is one diva who will not be ignored! This is silliness to the extreme, but it is delivered in such a smart way that the result is refreshing and welcome. I haven’t seen a production that breaks the rules quite like this one…or pulls off the risk in such a rewarding way.
Regardless of where you stand with the classic Monty Python series, this show is wholeheartedly enjoyable. I can say this because before seeing the show, I only had a vague knowledge of everything Monty Python. I had seen a few clips and heard a few references here and there, but never considered myself a real fan. An enthusiastic group sitting next to me, however, were reciting some of the lines verbatim and laughing before the punch lines were even delivered. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. However, be forewarned that this is not exactly a family show!
For an evening of care-free fun, I highly recommend a performance of Riverside’s entertaining Spamalot.
Running Time: Approximately two and a half hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Spamalot plays through November 16, 2014 at Riverside Center Dinner Theater – 95 Riverside Parkway, in Fredericksburg, VA. For tickets/reservations, call (540) 370-4300. For more information and tickets, visit their website.