Hilarious 'Spamalot' Is Just What The Doctor Ordered

By: Ellen Petry Whalen

Topics: Local Theater

A scene from “Spamalot” at the Academy of Performing Arts. MICHAEL AND SUZ KARCHMER PHOTO

Today, medical science supports the many health benefits of laughter, which can enhance the immune system and lower stress. In other words, The Academy of Performing Arts’ delightfully preposterous “Monty Python’s Spamalot” is just what the doctor ordered.

If you’re not familiar with the 2005 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, its tagline says it all: “A new musical lovingly ripped off from the [1975] motion picture ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’” The show’s catchy, Camelot-mocking title comes from the film’s inane line “we eat ham, and jam and Spam a lot.”

In this highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian legend, Alex Ferrer opens the show as a stuffy-looking historian educating the audience about the dismal state of Britain during the plague-ridden Middle Ages.

Comically roaming the British countryside, King Arthur (Todd Yates Gosselin) is in search of able-bodied men to join his fabled Knights of the Round Table. With his nuanced acting skills and fine voice, Gosselin is ideal as the straight man in the farce. Even as his character deals with the many absurd situations, such as peasants engaging in discourse about the varied forms of governmental rule, all the while insisting they didn’t vote for King Arthur, Gosselin maintains his regal composure.

As the Lady of the Lake, Sara Sneed’s professionally trained, operatic voice is as beautiful and stunning as her many costumes. Playing opposite the newly knighted Sir Galahad (Justin Torrellas), she first impresses the audience with the romantic-song parody “The Song that Goes Like This,” highlighting the amorous tensions predictably found in a musical’s first act. Undaunted, Torrellas matches Sneed’s over-the-top approach, creating a hilarious scene.

Patsy (Zane Bender) is Arthur’s loyal and patient attendant, who amusingly imitates the sound of horse hooves by clapping coconuts together whenever the King pretends to ride. In this understated yet entertaining role, Bender impressively leads a funny “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

After the knights receive a mandate from God (Eric Idle) to find the Holy Grail, they set out on their quest. Jefferson C. Post steals the show with some of the funniest roles, including the brawny Sir Lancelot; the French Taunter, who is known for farting “in your general direction;” the oddly imposing Head Ni Knight; and Tim the Enchanter, who warns the knights about a vicious bunny rabbit.

Arthur’s remaining sophomoric knights include the Broadway-loving Sir Robin (Jonathon Idman), who would rather sing and dance than fight, and Sir Bedevere “the strangely flatulent” (Paul Bender). Rounding out the supporting cast are Ethan Ehnstrom, Sarah Kelly and Heidi Moeykens.

The set’s stark castle cut-out is brought to life by varied screen projections, many of which are in perfect keeping with Monty Python’s humor, and, at the time, cutting-edge animated touches, like God presented as a pair of oversized feet, suggestive of a giant. Ellen Birmingham’s varied costumes are nicely detailed.

The two-hour-long madcap musical is directed and choreographed by Peter Earle, and is complemented by Christopher Morris’ precise band direction and piano accompaniment, with Dick Stocks on drums and Don Sanzo on bass.

On opening night, not only was the theater overflowing with laughter, but the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation. If you enjoy Monty Python’s unique humor the APA’s side-splitting “Spamalot” could be your ticket to good health according to the science of laughter.

 

Details:

Monty Python’s Spamalot”

At The Academy of Performing Arts, 120 Main St., Orleans

Through Nov. 13

Information and reservations: 508-255-1963, www.apacape.org