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(Theater's) Not dead yet!
(Theater's) Not dead yet!
Monty Python's Spamalot is what musical theater should be

Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT
OCTOBER 10TH - 28TH
PARAMOUNT THEATRE


"I'm not dead, yet!" These four simple words are familiar to anyone who ever went to college or were friends with someone who did. These words conjure grungy British medieval characters and the beginnings of smiles, as most everyone over the age of 17 knows Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But this time, the words are accompanied by music.

Monty Python's Spamalot (billed as "A New Musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail") is currently playing at the Paramount Theater and is what musical theater should be: fun, entertaining, well-performed and have you leaving the theater either humming or whistling one of the show's tunes.
The story is one we are familiar with. King Arthur and his knights go in search of the Holy Grail. Along the way they meet taunting French, sooth-saying enchanters and of course, Killer Rabbits and the Knights that say, 'Ni'. And the audience responds accordingly. (On the night I was there, at the very sight of the Knights that say 'Ni', the audience began to laugh; even before the knight's phrase was spoken).

But this is more than just a staged version of the movie. There is originality here as well. (Mel Brooks should take note!) The Lady of The Lake and her 'Laker Girls' are not only original, but also wonderfully entertaining. Esther Stilwell (as the Lady) delivers a show-stealing number, "The Diva's Lament" in Act II. Arthur's assistant (and horse miming, coconut clapper) Patsy - played by Jeff Dumas - is also a welcomed character expansion who gets to lead the chorus (and eventually the audience) in the Monty Python classic, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".

Beset with the quest to find The Grail by God (the recorded voice of John Cleese), the king and his knights are sent to discover their own grails as well; their missions in life. Each of the knights gets a chance to shine in their own way (except Sir Bedevere, the flatulent) with their own song or scene. Sir Robin, the chicken - played by Robert Petkoff - who exclaims the classic, "Run Away" and fearfully soils himself wants a career in musical theater. Sir Lancelot, the brute - the cute Patrick Heusinger - discovers his own desires, and Sir Galahad (Ben Davis) is lifted from poverty and grime to becoming a leader as well as a leading man.

King Arthur (Michael Siberry) heads the group on their quest until they are scattered throughout "a dark and expensive forest". With the help of The Lady of the Lake and his often ignored sidekick Patsy they make it through, reuniting the knights and concluding with a big "Broadway ending".

Can I say anything bad about the performance? Yes. Arthur's character seemed to suffer from low energy. Esther Stilwell's Second Act number gets a little lost in the muffling of the microphones. The audience's laughter of anticipation sometimes outweighed the joke itself.

Spamalot is playing at the Paramount Theater until Sunday October 28. The theater is located at 911 Pine Street (206-467-5510). The Original Cast Recording (starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria and Sara Ramirez among others) is also released on Decca records.

There is only one thing to be warned of: when you leave the theater, your face may hurt from "perma-grin."


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