Olions Serve Tasty Fare In ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’

The Knights Who Say Ni! baffle King Arthur and Patsy in ‘Spamalot.’ Photo by Elene Giorgi
 
Sir Galahad (Daniel Sarrao) and The Lady of the Lake (Evelyn Wohlbier) perform ‘The Song That Goes Like This.’ Photo by Elena Giorgi
 
Review by BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post
 
The Los Alamos High School Olions rendition of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” opened Friday at Duane Smith Auditorium to loud guffaws and wolf whistles.

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was originally a 1975 feature film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” by those masters of surreal and silly British comedy from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

You don’t need to be a big Monty Python enthusiast to enjoy “Spamalot,” but it helps. Book and lyrics are by Monty Python alum Eric Idle; music is by John Du Prez and Idle.

“Spamalot” pokes fun at anything and everything with gusto. It appeals to those who appreciate a good nose thumbing at conventions of all kinds. It is all so silly that it’s difficult to be offended. “Spamalot is rated PG-13 for some irreverent jokes and mild profanity.

Ah Camelot, where the men are beautiful and the women are brave and bold. And everybody eats a lot of Spam and constantly breaks into song and dance numbers.

King Arthur (Devon McCleskey.) and Patsy (Camille Rousculp) ‘gallup’ across the stage. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com
 
The plot, such as it is, centers around the search for the Holy Grail by the earnest, noble and completely clueless King Arthur (Devon McCleskey) and his hapless band of knights.

McCleskey, who has danced many a lead in New Mexico Dance Theatre productions proved here that he can act (and sing!) as well as dance. He’s a perfect Arthur, always trying to do the right thing and endlessly perplexed about what it might be. He manages to seem never in on the jokes. His dance training stands him in good stead as his stage moves draw the eye in every scene. McCleskey wants to pursue a career in musical theater and he seems to be well on his way.

Camille Rousculp is a gem as Arthur’s sidekick Patsy. Her song and dance number is especially well done. Her mobile facial expressions draw us into the jokes.

King Arthur (Devon McCleskey)  and the Laker Girls. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypsot.com

As the dynamic diva, The Lady of the Lake, Evelyn Wohlbier shows off a truly impressive set of pipes. She brings her beautiful voice to some truly inane material. The Lady leads a troupe of dancing girls, aptly named “The Laker Girls” who vamp their way into our hearts with outrageous impersonations of cheerleaders and chorus girls.

 

Sir Robin (Lauren Partin, left, and Sir Lancelot (Max Herrmann) assist Not Dead Fred (Josh Vigil). Photo by Elena Giorgi.
 

Max Herrmann is great as Lancelot (bold and strong and hot!). Hermann remains perfectly in character as the brash, if somewhat dim-witted hero-knight. Also excellent are Lauren Partin as the not-so-brave Sir Robin and Daniel Sarrao as revolutionary turned fashion-plate knight, Sir Galahad.

In smaller roles I loved Josh Vigil as Not Dead Fred and again as Prince Herbert, Lancelot’s love interest. His expressiveness stole the scenes he was in. Tavo Rogers, as Herbert’s brutish music-hating father, was another scene stealer. He made a small part really stand out. Many other actors in small roles were very good as well, including Trevor Nickless as the French Taunter and Dylan Mauldin as the Lead Knight of Ni to name but two.

The death cart heralds one of the funniest numbers in the show, (Just trust me on this). Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon

My favorite part of musical comedy is the big song and dance numbers, and “Spamalot” has some really fun ones. My favorite was “I Am Not Dead Yet,” a sprightly little number about the Black Death.

Singing and dancing peasants celebrate. Photo by Elena Giorgi

This seems like a good time to mention the excellent singing and dancing on the part of the main cast and the chorus. Choreography by Patrick MacDonald managed the chaos with grace. The musical numbers would not have gotten far without the pit musicians directed by Jason Rutledge. Their music added a lot to the production.

Sets by Holly Haas were, as always, whimsical, practical and surprising. Here’s a shout-out to costume mistress Anne DeMay on the wonderful costumes.

“Spamalot” is ably directed by David Daniel the LAHS theater teacher. Kudos to Daniel for staging a play his actors would really enjoy doing. They were clearly having a blast.

Tickets for Spamalot are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for children 5 and under (they won’t get the jokes, probably best get a sitter).

Spamalot continues at 7 p.m. April 29 and 30 and 2 p.m. April 30 and May 1 at Duane Smith Auditorium. This excellent production deserves your support and just might be the best taste of Spam you’ve ever had.

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