Monty Python’s SPAMALOT
Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
04/09/2015 - 12/09/2015
*(‘Knights of the Round Table’ and ‘Brave Sir Robin’ were composed by Neil Innes for Monty Python and the Holy Grail; ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ was originally written by Eric Idle for the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian.)
A musical lovingly ripped off, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Cantabrians will start “looking on the bright side of life”, with Monty Python’s Spamalot galloping onto the Isaac Theatre Royal in September.
Spamalot will make audiences laugh-a-lot, sing-a-long-a-lot, dress-up-in-silly-costumes-a-lot and revel in the “glorious, irresistible silliness” of the most infectiously funny musical of the millennium.
Featuring all-time favourite comedy song ‘ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE’ and other hilarious songs – ‘He Is Not Dead Yet’, ‘Knights Of The Round Table’, ‘Find Your Grail’ this show is a truly joyous colourful spectacle and fantastic fun.
Featuring the Arch Wizard of New Zealand as the Historian
On stage at the Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch for a limited season:
4th – 12th September, 2015
Evening performances at 7.30pm.
Saturday Matinees at 2pm.
Sunday matinee at 4pm.
Tickets via Ticketek 0800 Ticketek, www.ticketek.co.nz
Tickets priced from $42.50 to $87.50
Jason Reekers: King Arthur
Warwick Shillito: Patsy
Jack Marshall: Robin /Rio Dancer
John Bayne: Fisch Slapper /Dennis Galahad /Knight of Ni /Tim
Jason Pemberton: Lancelot /Black Knight
Ian Lester: Bedivere /Mayor /Mrs Galahad /Herbert's Father
Brett McPhail: Fisch Slapper /Not Dead Fred /Laker Boy /Flying Nun /Knight /French Taunter 1 /Minstrel No. 1 / Herbert
Ira Perkins: Male Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Plague Victim /Concorde /Knight / Dancing Knight
Raoul Neave: Male Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Monk /Plague Villager /Galahad's Horse /Knight /Minstrel 2 / Brother Maynard
Cameron Mason: Male Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Plague Victim /Laker Boy /Knight /Artist /Chief Knight of Ni /Dancing Knight /Rio Dancer /Sir Bors
Douglas Shields: Male Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Plague Victim /Bedivere's Horse /Knight /Monk
Cameron Melville: Male Ensemble /Plague Victim /Sir Not Appearing /Monk /Knight / French Taunter 2 /Dancing Knight /Rio Dancer
Jeff Bell: Male Ensemble /Monk /Plague Villager /Knight /R's Horse /Rio dancer
Jack Shatford: Male Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Monk /Plague Villager /Laker Boy /Knight /French Taunter 3 /Minstrel 3 /Rio Dancer
Jack Duff: Male Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Laker Boy /Knight /Marcel Marceaux /Dancing Knight /Rio Dancer
Leigh Wilson: The Lady of the Lake
Justine Taylor: Female Ensemble /Monk /Plague Villager /Hostess /Nun / Marie Antoinette /Knight of Ni /Monk
Georgia O’Connor-Harding: French Ensemble /Waitress /Nun /Chief /Dancing witch
Sally Hayward: Female Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Hostess /Nun /Knight of Ni /Trenchcoat Lady
Annie Manning: Female Ensemble /Fisch Slapper /Plague Victim /Waitress /Nun / Cosette /Minstrel 4
Layna Hunt: Female Ensemble / Monk /Plague Victim / Hostess /Nun / French Taunter 4 /Dancing Witch /Killer Rabbit Puppeteer
Briar Patrick: Show Girl /Female Ensemble /Plague Victim /Hostess /Nun / French Maid
Jenna Morris-Williamson: Dance Captain /Fisch Slapper /Laker Girl /Pram Show Girl /Pan Dancer /Can-Can Dancer /Lingerie Girl /Rio Dancer / Dying Swan /Bridesmaid
Ella Wilson: Fisch Slapper /Laker Girl /Pram Show Girl /Pan Dancer /Can-Can Dancer /Lingerie girl /bridesmaid
Laura Walker: Fisch Slapper /Laker Girl /Waitress /Pan Dancer /Can-Can Dancer /Lingerie Girl /Rio /Dancer
Elisa Knight: Fisch Slapper /Laker Girl /Pram Show Girl /Pan Dancer /Can-Can Dancer /Lingerie girl /Rio Dancer /Dying Swan /Bridesmaid
Ellie Johnson: Fisch Slapper /Laker Girl /Waitress /Pan Dancer /Can-Can Dancer /Dancing Witch /Lingerie girl /Rio Dancer
Meg Gregson: Fisch Slapper /Laker Girl /Pram Show Girl /Pan Dancer /Can-Can Dancer /Lingerie girl /Rio Dancer /Bridesmaid
The Arch Wizard of New Zealand: Historian
Natasha Flaszynski: Tumbling Frog
Theatre , Musical ,
Wit and audacity tightly packaged
Review by Erin Harrington 06th Sep 2015
Showbiz Christchurch’s original production of Spamalot was in rehearsal during, and ultimately fell victim to, the Canterbury earthquakes in early 2011. It’s fitting, and a great Python-esque middle finger to seismic events, that the premiere of this season of Spamalot comes on the fifth anniversary of the first earthquake in September 2010.
The show draws strongly from Monty Python’s 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, taking a thoroughly bastardised version of Arthurian legend, dousing it with arch silliness, and adding a couple of dozen dancers and company members to create a self-aware Broadway musical – although not many other musicals would feature dancing plague victims, a fish-slapping sequence, and killer rabbits.
Coming into this production it’s fascinating to listen in on the audience who, pre-show, are sharing their interest in, exposure to and experience with the anarchic and surreal humour of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, its various offshoots, and the Pythons’ individual side projects. This is material that is both deeply personal to people and widely loved, and furtively exchanged quotes are like a comic secret handshake.
Spamalot clearlyarrives laden with cultural capital and a great deal of pleasure is gained from the (re)presentation of highly familiar material. In this sense the musical is a ‘best of’ aspects of Python, as well as a clever pastiche of dozens of musical genres and styles, and for portions of the show audience members are spontaneously reciting the lines or singing the songs along with the performers.
I find that the musical is much bolder and has more depth when it diverges from its source material, such as when it transforms the original presentation of ‘Knights of the Round Table’ to a Vegas floor show, plays around with the conventions of musical theatre in its self-aware power ballads, or offers an unexpected big cast number about what you need to do to succeed on Broadway.
Sara Brodie, as director and choreographer, has shaped the show with a strong hand, ensuring that Spamalot is a tight and coherent package that takes full advantage of the script’s wit and audacity. Luke Di Somma, in his position as MD and conductor, draws bold performances from the cast and orchestra, ensuring that there is light and shade alongside the more strident numbers. The large assembled company, not to mention the crew, present swift scene and costume changes and shifts in tone with precision.
The cast is led ably by Jason Reekers, who is marvellous as the vapid, vainglorious King Arthur, both channelling Graham Chapman’s original presentation of the role and making it clearly his own. Leigh Wilson plays the aquatic diva the Lady of the Lake (notably the only female lead), and her impressive belt and remarkable vocal dexterity, not to mention her emphatic stage presence, mark her increasingly cranky performance as a highlight of the show.
The core cast of Knights (Jason Pemberton, John Bayne, Ian Lester, and Jack Marshall) each command their own subplots and deliver strong comic performances in both their physical characterisations and their singing and dancing. My companion and I decide, though, that the MVP award goes to supporting cast member Brett McPhail, whose sharply rendered performances as Not Dead Fred, Herbert and the lead French Taunter are scene-stealing in the best possible way.
This is a complicated and ambitious production to put together, and the production and technical team have between them created a slick, great-looking show that makes outstanding use of the capabilities of the Isaac Theatre Royal. I particularly like Harold Moot’s set design, which does an excellent job of shaping the space on stage and capturing the Python aesthetic, and a good deal of pleasure comes from set-related gags as pieces (and characters) are flown in and out.
My only beef – apart from a woman in front of me who won’t stop singing along – is that in places the diction is a little muddy, and I have to concentrate quite carefully to make out some of the more rapid delivery of lines. This is especially the case with the Arch Wizard of New Zealand, who plays the historian: I love that he has a role in this show but I can’t make out a word he says.
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