‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ at Silhouette Stages

Silhouette Stages’ hilarious production of Monty Python’s Spamalot opened last night at Slayton House in Columbia, MD. It is based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame) and Music by John du Prez and Eric Idle. Whether or not you saw the movie, you will love this wonderful spoof that takes aim at the Church, British lore, and musical theatre. Regarding the latter, no one is too sacrosanct from Sondheim to Tevye, from Bernstein to Webber and even from Barbra Streisand to Taylor Swift. It’s a little Camelot, a little Andy Hardy, a little Chicago, and a lot Monty Python.

 Patsy (Jeremy Goldman) tells King Artur (Mo Dutterer) the he should "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Photo by Steve Teller. Photo by Steve Teller.
Patsy (Jeremy Goldman) tells King Artur (Mo Dutterer) the he should “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Photo by Steve Teller.

Many of the lines and a couple of songs are taken from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but the show stopper “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” comes from The Life of Brian which was created by, none other than, Monty Python. The humor comes from puns, anachronisms and poking fun at anyone and anything.

Before I credit and honor the actors, I want to give special note to some the technical folks who really make this show so special. Debbie Mobley and Linda Swan’s costumes are stunning, comical and clever. The ensemble’s costumes especially the female ones, not always worn by ladies, are most impressive and definitely professional. Liliana Evans and Connie Ross did a fine job with the many unusual props.  Part of my applause is not only for their creativity but for how seamlessly the props come on stage.

Congratulations go to Stage Manager Reenie Campbell and her Assistant, Patrick Mason. Ryan Geiger’s stunning set design is also creative and depicted castles, forests, a lake and villages. It is fluid and created many levels for the directors. The lighting by Chris Mobley is brilliant, especially when they create special effects, when it is bad.  Every Spamalot actor is lit, and there are no annoying shadows.

Musical Director Michael Tan, who also plays the keyboard, blends the music and singing effortlessly. I really appreciate a live orchestra because it makes the actors just a little more relaxed. I also love that the musicians come dressed in costume as well to match the show. They even interact with the performers. It all works.

Silhouette Stages is well-known for their wonderful choreography and Spamalot is no exception, Tina DeSimone, has the performers all in step and creates a wonderful tap dance number in “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”.

Directors Connie Ross and Debbie Mobley, are veterans of this stage.  Sometimes shows that have two directors are uneven, but this one is not. The directing is strong. There are wonderful uses of levels and just the coming and going of actors is so smooth, you know these two have worked together for a while. They have created another successful production.

Now to the performers, I first want to give credit to Mo Dutterer’s King Arthur. He plays the fool most ably (no offensive) and has strong comedic timing as well as a wonderful voice. Emma Jensen as the Lady of the Lake has a beautiful operatic voice which works well contrasting to the more masculine voices of the cast. My favorite number of hers is the comedic, “The Diva’s Lament” which is even funnier with her spectacular voice.

The cast is rather large so I will note three of my favorite performances. (Note: Most of the actors play several roles. I adored Matt Wetzel in his numerous roles as Not Dead Fred in the number, “I Am Not Dead Yet,” and later as Prince Herbert. His overflowing energy was so infectious. Kudos go to Tommy Malek who shines as Sir Robin. He brilliantly carries the number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” which is full of dancing, singing, and farce.

Jeremy Goldman is remarkable as Patsy, and has great comic timing. As stated before, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is the premiere number, and here Goldman sings and tap dances right into our hearts and our “bright side.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention the other delightful and professional performances of Ryan Geiger as Sir Lancelot and Knight of Ni, Jim Gross as Sir Galahad and Dennis, and Rich Greenslit as Sir Bedevere and Dennis’ Mother. They are delightful in their roles.

A special nod to the hard-working ensemble, comprised of talented singers and dancers: Alex Pecas, Adam Abruzzo, Doug Thomas, Jim Baxter, Jose Teneza, and Vince Vuono as the “men,” and  their counterparts: Christine Benkoski, Angie Townsend, Emily Biondi, Lisa Rigsby, Parker Bailey Steven and Rachel Weir as the “women” are their equals.

And a special thank you to the excellent musicians: Greg Bell on bass guitar, William Georg, Keyboard and Percussion, and Jeff Glass on drums, who along with Michael Tan, perform flawlessly.

And special kudos to Neal Townsend and Lenny Taube who “do not appear in this show.” {See the show to see why they deserve our applause..]

A warning: Spamalot contains murder, fallen limbs, farting  and vulgarity. Hey, wait, maybe what this show is really spoofing is The Bard, himself, because there is lots of all that in his shows, too. I think old Bill with his English sense of humor would have loved the Silhouette Stages’ Spamalot, too! You will too! Silhouette Stages‘ Monty Python’s Spamalot is great fun!

Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with an intermission.

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Monty Python’s Spamalot plays through March 22, 2015 at Silhouette Stages performong at Slayton House Theatre in Wilde Lake Village Center— 10400 Cross Fox Lane, in Columbia, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 637-5289, or purchase them online.

RATING:FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif Five Very British Stars.