MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT

by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
St. Augustine’s Limelight Theatre opened the musical comedy MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT, by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, at 11 Old Mission Avenue. It will run through October 13. For tickets and information call 904-825-1164 or visit www.limelight-theatre.org.
There will be a hot time in the old town through the middle of October, especially if you are in the audience of Spamalot. This 2005 Tony Award winning musical is based on “Monty Python & the Holy Grail”, a 1975 film in which King Arthur and his knights undertake a quest for the golden chalice of medieval legend. Limelight is one of the first community theatres to obtain the rights.
Limelight Director GARY CADWALLADER has assembled an outstanding cast of nineteen talented performers who have to be many characters and do many things. They must be quick change artists to don the many costumes and wigs, all the while remembering which accent to use in each scene. Will it be Yiddish or French or German or English? They must have boundless energy to keep up with the wild and frenetic choreography of CHRISTINA CRUZ. The cast has to keep their voices fine-tuned to handle the demanding musical score of twenty or so songs, well performed by Musical Director SHELLI LONG on the keyboards, DOUGLAS BEARD (percussion), DANIEL DICKINSON (woodwinds), SARA BARBEE (bass), and JAY FORMAN (trumpet).
We have already given a brief plot summary; King Arthur is seeking the Holy Grail. We won’t even attempt to cover all the funny bits and skits, but if you are a fan of the movie, we will say that all the old favorites from the movie are in the show. Yes, the fish slapping dance, the giant wooden rabbit, the famous vicious rabbit, and the cow over the ramparts, just to name a few. If this sounds like Greek, it will all become clear when you see the show.
DAVE ALAN THOMAS is King Arthur and he is experienced as he was the King in “Pippin” at Players by the Sea a few seasons back. Thomas sings well and is able to rely on his manly charms and a kind of energy that laughs at itself to make the King both sturdy and delightfully fantastic and funny.
JAMES DESMOND is Patsy, the King’s servant, valet and horse (thanks to the device of two coconut shells.) KELLY ROSSBERG is the wonderfully goofy Sir Galahad. He doubles back in another role (not listed in program) that we will let you discover when you see the show. THOMAS MUNIZ as Sir Lancelot and BUTLER ROBERTSON as Prince Herbert absolutely bring the house down with their gay wedding scene in Act II. It is worth the price of admission.
Two Jacksonville actors play major roles. EVERETT STREET is the knight Bedevere. Mr. Street has been on stage at the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre in the past, and here he gets to sing. MEL NASH JR. is also from Jacksonville but we can’t recall seeing him on stage. He is super as Robin and in a couple of other roles, and sings well. He played the lead in “Shrek, the Musical” this summer in Orlando.
The real surprise of the production is KRISTIN PIDCOCK. She is well known to us and to Limelight audiences since she has been on the staff of Limelight for ten years and is currently the box office and house manager. We knew she could act because she previously did so in four shows at Limelight. But, Wow – Here is the News! This lady can really belt out a song. Bring on those falsettos and fortissimos, this gal can handle them. She is the hilarious Lady of the Lake. You are going to love her.
This laugh fest could not have been as polished and entertaining were it not for the ten members of the ensemble, who play so many roles, we lost track trying to count them. We only know CATHY O’BRIEN well, having followed her career from her start at ABET in Atlantic Beach. If you saw her marvelous performance as the restrained Lizzy in “The Rainmaker”, be prepared, otherwise you won’t recognize her in Spamalot.
Rounding out this cast with their top drawer vocals and their divine burlesque flourishes are: RITA BALDWIN, WILL GALLAGHER, MARIA HELFRICH, VINCENT IAROPOLI, BRENT JORDAN, JOHN LABMAN, MANDY MARCONI, GARY PEASE, AND RACHEL ROBERTSON. Unseen, but certainly heard was DON RUNK as God!
TOM FALLON, Limelight’s production manager, does his usual magic with the massive castle set, and adds sky and clouds and forests and many furnishings including the hand of God.
BRIAN O’KEEFE is the costume designer, We have known Mr. O’Keefe’s work from his many years with Seaside Music Theatre. His costumes are lavish, as he dresses characters that include, among others, Finnish villagers, the king with his crown, knights in medieval tunics, and lovely ladies in flowing gowns.
This is a very expensive show to produce with many costumes and over forty wigs, so even though it is available for community theatres, it may not be widely done. There is a little language and Monty Python’s usual sexual references, but they come fast and furiously.
To sum it up, Spamalot is blissfully silly and stuffed with big league laughs, zestfully performed by a cast of loveable and talented loons. Miss this production and you are missing comedic farce at its best and the chance to see, at 22 years and counting, one of the area’s most consistently fine theatres in action. That’s Limelight.

About FOLIO

april, 2022

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