Theater Review Music Theater West's Spamalot: MTW Closes 59th Season With Hilarious Mix of a Royal Saga Dazzling Songs/Dance &1,001 Laughs
Music Theater West(MTW)'s 59th anniversary triumphs again! Think Robin Hood had the only band of British "Merry-Men"? Nah! wait and see Monty Python's "Silly Men" in Spamalot. This bigger (& zanier) than real life musical comedy serves up a hilarious saga of how a perfect Camelot for Royalty, a Holy Grail Hunt, and the uncanny Knights (not yet in armor) are drafted into King Arthur's legendary court. 21 dazzling musical numbers (contagious, clever/zany lyrics/dances) span a fabled "romp-galore". Spamalot (by Eric Idle-lyrics/ & John Du Prez-music) won the Top 2005 Broadway Musical Tony, had a 15-month run in Las Vegas, and has knocked em' dead in London for years. The show's roots, are a cross between the hilarious King Arthur/ Camelot storyline (of hit movie, Monty Python & the Holy Grail), mixed with the signature name of BBC Python fans' most oft-replayed TV comedy skit, "Spam, Spam, Spam", where a British Cafe serves naught without "SPAM". In Long Beach's MTW's opening night, every step, on the path to King's Round Table & fanciful Court, (via Holy Grail trek) pours out so many laughs, fine vocals, and wondrous dizzy dance moves, we're indeed on a magic/mystical entertainment ride, you won't forget.
What about the cast? They are as sharp and praiseworthy as the irresistible show. Truly show-stopping, is the "fate-destined couple" of Davis Gaines as King Arthur & Tami Tappan Damiano as Lady of the Lake are simply a match made in theatrical heaven. Sure, each has amazing triumphant past credits: (Gaines: Phantom of the Opera; Hello Dolly; 1716; and a splendid Man Of La Mancha, etc); (Damiano: Singin' In The Rain, Never Gonna' Dance; Guys And Dolls; The Full Monty; Crazy For You, etc). But they prove they can not only win our hearts whenever they put their magnificent voices together, but can win our funny-bones just as adeptly- by amazingly capturing the outlandish Monty Python hilarity, making it their own, as if they'd been there on the BBC when all the outstanding zany wisdom-&-wit hilarity was born.
Many Bravos too, to Larry Raben and Jamie Torcellini (also having arm-loads of credits & tons-of-talent) They play many roles, but center on two right-hand serfs serving King Arthur with devotion -- and serving us (the audience) with absolutely hilarious comic timing, star-quality vocals and scintillating dance moves from first "toe tap" to final "prat-fall". Both Raben and Torcellini could(& have) stepped in star roles in a Broadway minute. Dan Callaway (Sir Galahad, et al), Zachary Ford (Sir Lancelot, et al), Richard Israel (Historian/"Not-Dead-Fred, et al) and Danny Stiles (Sir Belvedere, Galahad's MOTHER, et al) round out the grand featured roles, with fitting class, style and "belly-laughs a-plenty". But MTW's Spamalot's a great big show so we must surely applaud the 12 (six handsome guys and six gorgeous gals) in an ENSEMBLE that plays countless roles with even more countless, funny, sexy, beautifully sung and spectacularly danced grand moments/beats. We couldn't ask for more.
As always, supporting the brightness of this show's endearing/goofy "content", is the Carpenters' majestic theater and Music Theater West (MTW)'s outstanding production team. MTW (60 next year) has become a top venue for first-class music shows. It veritably shines as brightly as any fine Broadway or Metropolis Theater. Directing Spamalot is Steven Glaudini, who seems to somehow become even more "superbly right on the show's target" with each season. Musical Director, John Glaudini, likewise, manages to become even better no matter how challenging each show is. Choreographer, Billy Sprague, Jr. already part of Spamalot nationwide--here makes dance and movement a very major highlight of the fine show. Lighting, Sound, Wigs are by Steven Young, Julie Ferrin and Mark Hoyer. The set's part Broadway original, with costumes & new sets by Tim Hately.
This "No-Frowns" show is two hours of full-speed-ahead, outlandish humor that's half absurd, half genius. Never a lull or lag. Don't bother explaining the irresistible jokes, triple-entendre musical lyrics & fresh, unique, sizzling hot choreography to the person next to you if they're not "getting it". Just sit back, enjoy, and try to be kind, and have compassion, for their lack of both a sense of humor or recognition of true entertaining creativity. In fact, if you are not yet married to that person, you might be thankful, you found out in time. (After-all, a lifetime with no sense of humor??.. well maybe they're wonderful in other ways!)
--- Spamalot has em' rolling in the aisles while loving the music/dance. @ Musical Theatre West -- Carpenters Performing Arts Center–6200 Atherton St, at Cal-State Univ., Long Beach. Schedule: Thur-Fri-Sat: 8:PM. Matinees Sat & Sun: 2: PM Spec'l 7:PM Show July 8. Closes: Jul 15. Tkts: ($20-up/some discounts) Tel:(562) 856-1999-X4 Web: www.musical.org