- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
Is there anyone, anywhere, who hasn’t been left crying with laughter by the talented folks who made Monty Python– a brand name for British comedy? Is there anybody who doesn’t know the dead parrot sketch, or the Spanish Inquisition with its comfy chairs and soft pillows?
Okay, there are three of you out there, and if you are lucky you’ll see Musical Theatre West’s delirious, hilarious and outrageous Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach sometime in the next two weeks. Then you’ll understand what everyone else has been laughing at for the past thirty years or so. That is if you can get tickets. The three performance the first week were sold out, and there is no guarantee the rest of the run will be any less successful.
Spamalot is the Broadway hit that earned three Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Director when it opened there in 2005, with a book by Python alumni Eric Idle based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was written in turn by all the Python’s. There is not enough room here to untangle the who-wrote-what question.
Arthur, King of the Britons is Davis Gaines, who was The Phantom on Broadway and most recently Don Quixote in MTW’s Man of La Mancha a few months back. He gives the audience a “been there, done that” ad lib when Don Quixote wants to join his band of knights.
With his faithful servant Patsy (Jamie Torcellini), who provides riding sound effects with two empty coconut shells, Arthur goes forth and attempts to find chivalry and valiant knights. Instead he gets an ill-assorted band that includes Larry Raben as Sir Robin, Dan Callaway as Sir Galahad, Danny Stiles as Sir Bedevere, Zachary Ford as Sir Lancelot and Tami Tappan Damiano as the Lady of the Lake. During his quest he is confronted by God, the flying magician Tim, a deadly rabbit, the Knights who Say Ni and an entire castle of French Knights who are very, very rude indeed.
The MTW press release says the story of Spamalot diverts a bit from the “true story” and we’d like to have a conversation with them about that “true story.” But that’s an essay, not a review. This production, using the original Broadway sets and costumes, is as professional as they come. Every bit of humor and every joke from this production number celebrates everybody, including Jews on Broadway to gay marriage, and a little, tiny bit of Python’s Life of Brian at the end.
If you are one of those three who know nothing of Monty Python, you desperately need to educate yourself. For everyone else, “Wink,wink, nudge nudge,” say no more.
Tickets are 420-$100. Performances are Friday, July 6 at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7 at 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday,July 8 at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursday, July 12 at 8 p.m., Friday, July 13 at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14 at 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday, July 15 at 2 p.m.
Details: (562) 856-1994, www.musical.org
Venue: Carpenter Performing Arts Center
Address: 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach