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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Missing Sunshine Found in Monty Python's "SPAMALOT" at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre

The all-local cast of Monty Python's Spamalot at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
Credit Mark Kitaoka
        Considering the rainy climate the Pacific Northwest has in common with Great Britain, and the need to counteract that gloom with cheer, it's no wonder people around here seem to embrace British humor. Brighten your outlook by treating yourself to a performance of Monty Python's Spamalot at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Get those tickets right away. After March 2, this welcome flash of sunshine will go dark and you’ll have missed many good laughs and a visual spectacle as grand as any the 5th produces. The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has never been so irreverently interpreted. 
Inspired by the success of the 1975 British film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the whacky creation of members of the comedy group Monty Python (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin), Idle went on to write the book and lyrics for the musical Spamalot. It became phenomenally successful and won a Tony Award in 2005. 
I never saw either movie, but I certainly remember the television show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which incorporated what amounted to 19th century clip art. Some of that shows up in Spamalot too, in the cartoonish image of the feet of God and in the giant rendition of a clenched hand with pointing finger that hung up near the ceiling to the right of the stage. It was lowered and put to use to make a point at just the right time.

Sir Galahad (Louis Hobson) and the Lady of the Lake (Laura Griffith) in the all-local cast of Monty Python's Spamalot at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
Credit Tracy Martin
A cast talented enough to be on Broadway, but smart enough to choose life in the beautiful Pacific Northwest instead, includes Allen Fitzpatrick, who plays the part of a King Arthur as clueless as he is noble, even when it comes to picking up on the interests of the gorgeous Lady of the Lake. That fair maiden is none other than Laura Griffith. What a voice! While we all laughed as she intentionally overdramatized her vocal gymnastics, we knew it took enormous talent, power, grace, and range to do so. 
Local talent shines brightly in this world-class production, with many cast members playing multiple roles. Dane Stokinger filled no less than four, including Sir Lancelot (with that great head of long, blond hair), and also provided the voice of God. Joshua Carter became five different characters, and Louis Hobson and Richard Gray each played three parts. Of Matt Owen’s three roles, his most memorable in this show will be as Sir Robin, a character he fills with personality, plus. 

Laura Griffith, center, stars as the Lady of the Lake in the all-local cast of Monty Python's Spamalot at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
Credit Mark Kitaoka
Monty Python-style “special effects” are so good because they are so bad. With typical nonchalance, the knights use their swords to sever body parts but the enemy remains undaunted and carries on with resolve. Even while your limbs stay attached, you’ll laugh your head off. 
         All the great singing and dancing, including a perfectly executed tap number, will have to share the applause with the fabulous 5th Avenue orchestra. They are the talented team you never get to see, but what a major impact they make. Just getting to hear these amazing musicians is worth the price of a ticket alone. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening spent in Spamalot and I’m sure you will too. Just to make it easy for you, here’s a link to the online box office. Forgetting the rain will feel even easier once you can look forward to this show. As the song says, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."