sunset’s ‘spamalot’ finds its grail
By Marilyn Jozwik
Published April 27, 2019
After a long winter tucked inside there’s nothing better for the soul than a good laugh.
And there is, perhaps, no show more capable of delivering such laughs than Monty Python’s irreverent musical take on King Arthur, “Spamalot.”
Sunset Playhouse has assembled all the ingredients to cook up a hilarious rendition of the show – a fine cast, a capable orchestra, good vocals and snappy dancing.
The parody follows King Arthur (Corey Richards) as he gathers knights to join him in Camelot and later to search for the Holy Grail. His travels lead him to his eclectic crew of Knights (of the Round Table) with unlikely stops in Las Vegas and on Broadway. Arthur and his crew visit a strange forest occupied by the scary, but silly, Knights who say Ni and a French castle where the King and his company are mocked in scatological terms and assaulted with a cow. Sir Robin dreams of being a song-and-dance sensation, Lancelot is outed as gay and Galahad has radical political leanings.
There’s little doubt that the show’s author, Eric Idle of Monty Python, who also wrote the lyrics, and some of the music along with John Du Prez, is offering commentary about royal rule in England and other topics. The satire often has little subtlety, as does his word play (“arms for the poor”).
When Arthur comes upon Dennis Galahad (Eric Welch), Dennis and his Mother (Cheryl Roloff) engage Arthur in a sprightly debate over Arthur’s right to rule over the people since he was not chosen by them. It is a marvelous exchange by Richards and Welch, whose quick repartee energizes the scene that provides lots of food for thought.
Sunset has filled all the roles well, starting with Richards as King Arthur, who assumes a deep, rich, accented voice for his royal role, to which he adds a side helping of arrogance and occasional bemusement to create a memorable character. Richards is up to all the challenges – from scat singing with the Lady of the Lake (Hannah Esch) to clip-clopping along with his sidekick Patsy (Jacob Cesar) and dancing with the Laker Girls.
King Arthur in “Spamalot” is no doubt on many a male thespian’s bucket list, but on the female side it’s the role of Lady of the Lake that is coveted. Esch can cross that role off her list in grand style as she takes this Lady on a wild vocal ride, getting bluesy, soulful and often outrageous as she belts out in true diva style the show-stopping tunes “The Song That Goes Like This” and “The Diva’s Lament.” Her voice seems to know no bounds in volume – from hushed to bombastic – and range.
So many wonderful bits here. Welch’s Galahad and Cheryl Roloff, as his mother and as the Knight of Ni, are marvelous. Clayton R. Irwin’s Sir Robin has lots of fun with this unbrave soul, presenting an entertaining “You Can’t Succeed on Broadway.” Jacob Cesar as Patsy plays the King’s right-hand man nicely, providing lots of subtle, disbelieving looks and gestures during the King’s “I’m All Alone.” As Prince Herbert, Josh Verish deftly handles the sweet “Where Are You?” while engaging his demanding father (Brian Roloff) in some delightful scenes.
As the Historian to open the show, Patrick Couillard effected such a thick accent that it was hard to understand him.
Karl Miller served as director, choreographer and costume consultant and had his troops in sync with some rather simple steps but lots of big arm movements. All the dance scenes had good energy and engaging smiles from the ensemble, especially the sharp Laker Girls. As always, AJ Pawelski provided some fine dancing, especially his unconventional Dancing Nun.
Music director Mark Mrozek gets a full sound from the six-piece orchestra, while Master Carpenter Duane Bauer has created Medieval castles and forests with simple moveable columns. Several scenes were effectively projected on large vertical panels, including the map of England and the feet of God.
Welch (K’Eric’ters wig styling and make-up artist) has provided a variety of long, flowing locks to plant the characters firmly in the Middle Ages.
Those familiar with the show will not be disappointed with Sunset’s version. And if you’ve never seen “Spamalot” before, be prepared for some good laughs.
If you go
Who: Sunset Playhouse
When: Through May 12
Where: 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove
Tickets/Info: 262-782-4430; www.sunsetplayhouse.com