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09May

Monty Python’s Spamalot, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, Virginia, May 4, 2018

Olivia Parker

Teens and Theatre Company

 

Holy quests, flatulent Frenchmen, daring (and not so daring) deeds, and a 50% chance of pestilence alchemized for a delightful evening at Robinson High School's hilarious production of Monty Python's Spamalot.

 

"Lovingly ripped off from" Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail, 14-time Tony nominee Spamalot takes the best of the iconic lines, adds a non-stop onslaught of production numbers and exciting twists, while maintaining the zany spirit of the original classic.

 

A massive show with an enormous cast and even bigger laughs, the production was propelled by astonishing commitment from every one of the 100+ people working on and off stage.

 

With a regal attitude, appropriately silly walk, and voice smooth enough to convince anyone to join his quest, Daniel William's performance as King Arthur was delightfully droll. His loyal attendant/pack mule/chief coconut clapper Patsy (Nico Ochoa) was one of the most memorable characters of the night with excellent physical humor, exaggerated everything, and a great voice in "Always look on the bright side of life." Master and servant's chemistry peaked in the paradoxical, "I'm all alone."

 

At his side were his good-intentioned knights; Sir Lancelot the Brave (Matthew Ross), who's shining moment involves fishnets and a disco number, Sir Robin the not-quite as brave (RJ Pratt), who finds his passion for musical theatre, Sir Galahad (David Ingle), a crotchety political radical who receives a magical makeover, and Sir Bedevere (Hasan Crawford), who bemoans his lack of stage time. While the knights' solo adventures had the audience rolling in the aisles, they were at their best when bantering at a rapid-fire pace.

 

Jordan James, Anna Maria Shockey, and Claire Burton shone as the Ladies of the Lake. Each a diva, they belted, riffed, and crooned the plot along--until disappearing for most of act two, reappearing in dressing gowns for the hilarious "Diva's Lament."

 

A tremendous part of the source material's success, the bit roles stole the show. From the iconic Black Night (Jimmy Grimes) who claims, "'Tis only a flesh wound," to the eccentric enchanter Tim (Ivy Mitchell) who warns of a fearsome carnivorous rabbit. The formidable Knights Who Say "Ni" towered into the air, though anyone does when sitting on someone else's shoulders. In a charming surprise, they were accompanied by the adorable "Wee" Knights Who Say "Ni". Other highlights included Elizabeth Mpanu. Mpanu's performance as a cockney accented God, the French Taunters (Lily Brintzinghoffer and Maddy Ross), believer in true love Prince Herbert (Steven Eckloff), and mystifyingly energetic Not Dead Fred (Corinne Baum).

 

Adding even more energy that multiplied with every number, the ensemble masterfully performed everything from Singing the Rain styled tap numbers to pep rallies to the most aggressive can-can in history. The amount of passion rolling off the stage when everyone was present was overwhelming.

 

Tap and flag choreography by student choreographers Maria Gleason and Isabelle Guzzano was consistently sharp. Jillian Sturim's versatile and polished set lent itself to a variety of locales, including a "very expensive forest." Colorful and fun lighting by Jason Eisen made every number a party, while being subtle during the rare emotional moment.

 

With a script sharper than Excalibur and infectious energy that continually escalates, Robinson High School's Spamalot will have you saying, "Huzzah!"


Samuel Intrater

Albert Einstein High School

 

Irreverent, extravagant, and... flatulent, Robinson Secondary School's production of Monty Python's Spamalot was a joyride from start to finish.

 

Monty Python's Spamalot is, in the words of the show itself, a musical "lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail", the 1975 British comedy that mercilessly lampoons the fables of King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail. Spamalot opened on Broadway in 2005 with music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle (founding member of Monty Python) with stars Tim Curry and Sara Ramirez. The show was a commercial and critical triumph, scoring a whopping 14 Tony nominations and 3 wins in the categories of Best Direction, Best Featured Actress (Sara Ramirez), and Best Musical.

 

Spamalot is chock full of giant, ridiculous production numbers that require strong presentation, and Robinson Secondary was more than up to the challenge. Lighting effects were used very successfully to tune the comic timing of the piece, and the special effects were delightfully cheesy. Costumes, particularly for the three Ladies of the Lake, were gorgeous, colorful, and effective. Choreography was brilliantly executed and made the production feel much larger than your typical high school production. Most exceptional numbers where everything came together just right include "Knights of the Round Table", "Find Your Grail", "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", as well as several others.

 

Across the board, every member of the cast was charming and memorable. Daniel Williams (King Arthur) led the show and his Knights of the Round Table with a commanding presence and hilarious deadpan delivery. Nico Ochoa's performance as the Arthur's lowly sidekick Patsy was an absolute triumph. Even with fewer lines than his fellow characters, particularly in the first act, Ochoa showcased staggering dance moves, well-trained vocals, and unwavering comic energy in his face and physicality. Together, the king and assistant conveyed a confusing but undeniably endearing chemistry.

 

Although the original show is written to only include one Lady of the Lake, Robinson Secondary decided to transform the solo role into a trio. Griselda (Jordan James), Guinevere (Anna Maria Shockley), and Godiva (Claire Burton) all were dominating performers with powerhouse vocals. Every single one of the Knights of the Round Table were hilarious and shone in their respective moments.

Even the tiniest walk-on roles, such as the French taunters (Lily Brintzinghoffer, Maddy Ross), Tim the Enchanter (Ivy Mitchell), Not Dead Fred (Corinne Baum), and God Herself (Elizabeth Mpanu Mpanu) left a lasting impression with their remarkable commitment and embodiment of their wacky characters. Furthermore, everyone in the ensemble appeared to be committed and enjoying themselves, helping ensure that the energy levels of the cast matched the energy of the show itself.

 

If a show is only as strong as its weakest link, Spamalot was flawless, as no performer or moment stood out as underwhelming. Robinson Secondary School went above and beyond in taking on the challenge of this deliciously inappropriate farce of a musical.

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