It is hard not to be a little bit skeptical about Premiere Productions staging of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at the Welk Resort Theater. While the musical spectacle was a hilarious success in Manhattan and London, could the loony anarchic spirit of the show and classic that inspired it, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” work on a small stage mostly associated with PG family friendly entertainment?
After all, this is a broad comedy with exaggerated violence, tons of fart jokes and an infinite amount of instances where characters break the fourth wall. Not necessarily the kind of material that is generally associated with the Escondido resort. My fears lowered after hearing a snippet from the score of the original movie play before the overture. This indicated that director and co-star, Randall Hickman, clearly has a lot of love and respect for the source material and it shows all throughout an immensely fun interpretation.
For the few people that do not know what “Spamalot” is about, the epic adventure is the story of King Arthur (Bob Himlin), who is recruiting Knights of the Roundtable to join him and his loyal servant, Patsy (Steven Grawrock) in Camelot. After finding several men who are willing to serve him, Arthur is asked by God (voiced by “Monty Python” member, Eric Idle) to find the Holy Grail. This is followed by a bunch of comedic vignettes where Arthur and the knights find themselves in one loopily dangerous situation after another.
Idle’s book, lyrics and music also composed with John Du Prez, capture the anything goes attitude of the iconic group. Whenever it seems like the tale won’t get more bonkers, a visual or verbal punch line completely catches the audience off guard.
“Spamalot” also works equally well as a satire and love letter to Broadway. Musical numbers including “The Song That Goes Like This” and “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” are biting, but also affectionate tunes that spoof everything from “Phantom of the Opera” to “Fiddler on the Roof.”
A big gamble was to have recorded music from the MT Pit play all of the melodies as opposed to an orchestra. However, the cast seemed very comfortable singing to the audio and no goofups occurred during the evening.
As Arthur, Himlin portrays the commanding king the same way that Graham Chapman did in the flick. He plays practically everything straight, making him the voice of sanity while the other characters tend to be eccentric and silly. Though it isn’t necessarily a vocally demanding role, Himlin’s take on the ironic ballad “I’m All Alone” is surprisingly moving.
As the enchanting Lady of the Lake, Mitzi Michaels sings with a commanding voice. She hits the extremely high notes spot on and is not afraid to occasionally sound ridiculous when performing “Find Your Grail” or “Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened to my Part?)”.
As a slapstick filled tribute to a popular British troupe, “Spamalot” is a witty treat. The crude humor along with clever allusions for drama geeks makes this a rousing success.