Friday, March 11, 2016

reviews - MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT - Mesa Encore Theatre

photos and artwork: Wade Moran
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 20th.

 " The hit 1975 movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail humorously told of King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail. ...Eric Idle created a musical version of the movie with John Du Prez called Spamalot. The title is a riff on the musical Camelot which was set in the same period as the film and also focused on King Arthur. Mesa Encore Theatre's production of this musical comedy provides an endless amount of silly fun with a cast and direction that expertly play up the show's comical moments. The plot of the show is fairly basic. King Arthur forms the Knights of the Round Table and with Lancelot, Galahad, Robin, and his trusty knave Patsy along for the ride, plus some assistance from the mysterious Lady of the Lake, they go on a search for the Holy Grail. ...Director Peter J. Hill has wisely kept the MET cast small, just like the Broadway production, with six of the main cast members playing multiple parts. ...As the hapless leader King Arthur, Bill Bennett is the virtual straight man for the zaniness that unfolds around him...Lizz Reeves Fiddler holds her own with the male-dominated cast as the Lady in the Lake, the only main female character. ...Andy Newman's exceptionally clear voice excels on Patsy's songs and his frustrated and agitated facial expressions work well to display Patsy's irritation with the way Arthur treats him. Chris Fidler is superb as the sexually confused Lancelot and several other roles. He is exceptional in making them all unique and hilarious. Sky Donovan is funny as the self-absorbed Galahad; as the not exactly brave Robin, Michael Stewart is charming and sweet; and James Melita instills several roles, including Galahad's mother, with plenty of humor. Also, David Chorley is a hoot in a few small parts, including Prince Herbert, the damsel in distress who just happens to be a man. All six of these men display exceptional comedic timing while instilling the many characters they play with charm. Director Hill moves the series of vignettes along at a fast pace, and ensures that Bryan Rosen's smart, cartoon-like set designs are incorporated into the hilarity. ..With a gifted cast, fine creative elements, and direction that is proficient in making the comedy always hit its mark, MET's Spamalot is a charming, silly, and very funny production.

 -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"..."Spamalot" at Mesa Arts Center relayed Arthurian legend through the crumpled strainer of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." For serious purists it was not. For ribald, irreverent humor enthusiasts, Mesa Encore Theatre's (MET) current production was all in....A clear favorite, "I Am Not Yet Dead," led by Fred (David Chorley) snagged big guffaws. In fact, Chorley had putty rather than facial muscle like the rest of us. With matching demeanor, he molded and formed expressions into the most ridiculous, multiple, side-splitting characters and was among the evening's most uproarious highlights. Dejected and ignored Patsy (Andy Newman) as King Arthur's kicked around sidekick also tugged at our hearts while he tickled our funny bones. ...Bryan Rosen's set design and the technical oversight by Kerry Jordan were among the most seriously successful endeavors of a most silly night. ...The knights themselves, Sir Lancelot (Chris Fidler) and Sir Robin (Michael Stewart) in particular--playing slapsticking, punnsters to the hilt--, had even the curmudgeons in the crowd laughing. ...The script, too, gets detrimentally aimless in Act Two. Straight man King Arthur (Bill Bennett) and the vivacious Lady of the Lake (Lizz Reeves Fidler) hence, present the greatest challenges. Through excellently-paced staging and beautifully costumed dazzle, not to mention some powerful pipes, both Bennett and Fidler fared well....A good time was had by all opening night. Even those with a dread of the overly silly laughed right out loud." -Jennifer Haaland, Examiner.com (click here to read the complete review)

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