Spamalot is full of medieval tomfoolery

King Arthur and the Lady of Lake welcome the Knights of the Very Round Table to Camelot in the Vermont Family Theater production of Spamalot.  From left to right, in the back row, are Joan Racine, Donna Arnold, Lucas Roy, Jade Piette, Greg Tocci, and Rachel Carter.  Seated in the middle row are the knights:  Jake Blankenship, Brendan Hadash, Todd Jones, and Zeb McCoy.  In front are Alan Franklin, Deborah MacKay, and Cassie Tarbox.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

King Arthur and the Lady of Lake welcome the Knights of the Very Round Table to Camelot in the Vermont Family Theater production of Spamalot. From left to right, in the back row, are Joan Racine, Donna Arnold, Lucas Roy, Jade Piette, Greg Tocci, and Rachel Carter. Seated in the middle row are the knights: Jake Blankenship, Brendan Hadash, Todd Jones, and Zeb McCoy. In front are Alan Franklin, Deborah MacKay, and Cassie Tarbox. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle April 9, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

ORLEANS — In days of yore a band of bold men adventured across the green and pleasant land of England.  Their adventures have been repeated down through the generations and continue to inspire listeners to this day.

I’m speaking, of course, of Monty Python, the progenitors of the musical comedy now playing at the Orleans Municipal Building — Spamalot.

The show, written by Eric Idle, one of the Pythons, opened on Broadway in 2005, where it had a very successful four-year run.  It has now made its way to Orleans in the form of a very entertaining production by the Vermont Family Theater.

Teeming with medieval tomfoolery, the show follows the adventures of King Arthur (Alan Franklin) who’s on a “solitary trek” — with his faithful squire, Patsy (Joan Racine) — across medieval England in search of recruits for his very round table.  The two make a great team, especially when Ms. Racine assists Mr. Franklin’s nimble tap dance routine.

In this show-stopping number, brave Sir Robin (Todd Jones) explains that a Broadway show cannot succeed unless it has Jews.  Dancing behind him are (from left to right) Mattie Austin, Lauryn Goulet, Kayla Poginy, and Cassie Tarbox.

In this show-stopping number, brave Sir Robin (Todd Jones) explains that a Broadway show cannot succeed unless it has Jews. Dancing behind him are (from left to right) Mattie Austin, Lauryn Goulet, Kayla Poginy, and Cassie Tarbox.

The basic setup for the show comes from the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a send-up of the Arthurian legends.  While the show includes many of the funniest parts of the movie, Mr. Idle did not stint himself in quarrying the rest of the Monty Python canon in his quest for laughs.

And there were laughs aplenty as King Arthur plucked his knights from the fields of Britain and brought them to Camelot, revealed to be the medieval version of Las Vegas.  The fairest flowers of the kingdom’s nobility included Sir Dennis Galahad (Zeb McCoy), Sir Lancelot (Jake Blankenship), bold Sir Robin (Todd Jones), and Sir Bedevere (Brendan Hadash).

In addition to being courageous, chaste and chivalrous, King Arthur’s knights proved themselves to be skillful singers and dancers, capering through a wild selection of production numbers, well choreographed by Cassie Tarbox.

Acting as Arthur’s guide and inspiration, the Lady of the Lake, Debbie Mackay, set a high standard for Broadway belting.  Her numbers managed to be both well sung and hilarious at the same time.

The knights seek to oust the perfidious French from their castle by use of a stratagem.  Standing in front of the great wooden rabbit are Todd Jones, Zeb McCoy, Jake Blankenship, Joan Racine, Alan Franklin, and Brendan Hadash.

The knights seek to oust the perfidious French from their castle by use of a stratagem. Standing in front of the great wooden rabbit are Todd Jones, Zeb McCoy, Jake Blankenship, Joan Racine, Alan Franklin, and Brendan Hadash.

The secondary players also contributed greatly to the evening, especially Lucas Sirois, who played Not Dead Fred and Prince Herbert with spritely verve.

A production such as this, which was obviously a long time in preparation, can’t rest solely on the shoulders of its stars.  The chorus and dancers deserve special recognition for their energy and terpsichorean talents.

At this time of year there is every incentive to look for an escape from a time of not winter, yet not summer.  Spamalot fits the bill, and fortunately, with performances at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, there remains time to laugh yourself into a better season.

Just a note:  A bit of the language may not be  appropriate for small children.

contact Joseph Gresser at joseph@bartonchronicle.com

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