Review: ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ at Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre & Children’s Theatre

A first-rate production of Monty Python’s Spamalot opened last night in the intimate Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre & Children’s Theatre, in Frederick, Maryland.

Spamalot is the creation of Monty Python’s Eric Idle who wrote the book and lyrics and with John du Prez the music. It is a very funny, farcical, British satire about the fabled reign of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and it has its roots in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is a thinly veiled jab at modern social, political and even religious institutions. Though it opened on Broadway over a decade ago, and the movie even longer, it remains relevant and edgy.

Jordan B. Stocksdale (Sir Galahad), Brett Stockman (Sir Lancelot), Brian Lyons-Burke (King Arthur), and Adam Yastrzemsky (Patsy). Photo courtesy of Way Off Broadway.
Jordan B. Stocksdale (Sir Galahad), Brett Stockman (Sir Lancelot), Brian Lyons-Burke (King Arthur), and Adam Yastrzemsky (Patsy). Photo courtesy of Way Off Broadway.

Bill Kiska and Dee Buchanan do a magnificent job using every inch of the small stage with this large cast to create flawless dance numbers and the presenting of numerous sight gags. The talented hoofers never miss a step – even in the complicated dance numbers, “Come with Me” and “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway.”

The ensemble was always in unison, and did excellent jobs backing up the main cast as they went from character to character  – often stepping out of the chorus to perform some supporting roles. Watch for the adorable Laker Girls and Can Can Dancers. They are exceptional.

The main cast is led by the seasoned performer, Brian Lyons-Burke as King Arthur. Lyons-Burke plays the bumbling and not so bright Arthur to perfection. His showstoppers were the numbers “Find Your Grail” in Act I and “I’m All Alone” in Act II.

Brett Stockman plays the brutish Sir Lancelot who is hiding a very different personality. Stockman is a riot the musical piece “His Name is Lancelot”.

Tori Weeaver (Lady of the Lake). Photo courtesy of Way Off Broadway.
Tori Weaver (Lady of the Lake). Photo courtesy of Way Off Broadway.

One of the most demanding roles is Lady of the Lake played in this production by Tori Weaver. The Lady goes from ephemeral nymph to nightclub singer to romantic lead and back again, including numerous costume changes. Weaver is up for the challenge. Her voice goes from operatic to bluesy and she carries it all off with aplomb.

Ariel Messeca is Sir Robin and this bird takes flight in the number, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway.” His dance kicks are unbelievable – like a male Rockette.

Jordan B. Stockdale portrays Sir Dennis Galahad and does a wonderful transition in his opening scene from peasant to Knight. He has great comic timing, and is hilarious as the ever-shortening Black Knight and Prince Herbert’s Father.

Jeremy Trammelle is quite good as Sir Bedevere but is at his best and funniest playing Ms. Galahad in Act I.

Adam Yastrzemsky plays poor put-upon Patsy who accompanies Arthur on his quests, carrying their load, using coconuts to make the sounds of horses’ hooves and being the brains behind the king. He is often ignored by the others but that allows for some very funny mugging, and he is outstanding in his duet with Arthur, “I’m All Alone.”

John Waeyaert has the unenviable task of undertaking 5 roles, and he makes each one a unique character and performance. As Not Dead Fred he knocks it out in the number, “I’m Not Dead Yet.” As the Minstrel he is teasing and uproariously taunting to Robin in “Brave Sir Robin.”  He is even better as Prince Herbert at the end of the show as he joins Lancelot in the outrageous “His Name is Lancelot.”

Again, it is important to remember that all of the actors have wonderful voices and dancing ability, and this is most evident in the showstopper “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” in Act II (which is reprised at the end of the show).

The set by Bill Kiska and Jordan B. Stockdale consists of two stone arches for exits and entrances, several backdrops and flats to create a castle. It also has several portals for characters to pop in and out of during the musical. My personal favorite set piece was a small mountain brought out on stage that turns into a grail. The lighting by Justin M. Kiska is flawless.

However, I am saving the biggest praise for last. There are probably close to 100 costumes needed for this show. They range from medieval knights to Finnish Dancers to Can Can Dancers, to cheerleaders to Vegas show girls.  Flo Arnold and Bill Kiska did a Broadway level job creating these right down to having the right shoewear. The costumes fit perfectly and held up through very fast and furious changes backstage. There were also dozens of wigs attributed to April Horn of Hair Work.

It’s worth the drive to Frederick to see Way Off Broadway’s hilarious Monty Python’s Spamalot. Don’t miss it!

Just a small note: There is a small dress requirement (no shorts).

Running time: Two Hours and 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

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Monty Python’s Spamalot plays through September 17, 2016 at Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre & Children’s Theatre – 5 Willowdale Drive, in The Willowtree Plaza, in Frederick, MD. For tickets and reservations, call the box office at (301) 662-6600.

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Note: There is a small dress requirement: no shorts.