Have you ever pondered the air-speed velocity of a swallow? Have you ever debated with idiotic knights who only say ni? Have you ever questioned the logic behind a Trojan rabbit? Have you ever used coconuts to impersonate the sound of a horse’s trot, gallop, or leap? If you answered yes to any—or, God forbid, all—of these questions, then you’ll find fine company with King Arthur and the merry band of knights who star in the Monty Python musical Spamalot.
Catch a sidesplitting incarnation of this Tony Award–winning musical, courtesy of MNM Productions, at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse through June 4. A professional theater company composed of South Florida–based actors, MNM brings an earnest irreverence (an oxymoron that somehow proves true) to Spamalot that is at once endearing, exuberant, and hilariously maddening.
With a book and lyrics by Python alumnus Eric Idle, Spamalot is a spirited retelling of the 1975 cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We see King Arthur and the pandering Patsy search for knights to join their round table, and all of your favorite characters are present and accounted for. But Spamalot veers off course of its source material to deliver Broadway-inspired plot points and asides, including a satirical take on sappy ballads with “The Song that Goes Like This” and the knights’ quest to stage a successful musical. Packed with creative fourth wall breaks and a pastiche of musical allusions, Spamalot is designed to please the pop culture junkie/musical theater kid who lives within us all.
With help from a live orchestra, MNM’s capable cast delivers laugh after laugh as they gleefully jaunt from one show-stealing number to the next. Everybody gives everything they have to their roles no matter the size, from the chorus members who tap dance in celebration of a Vegas-style version of Camelot, to King Arthur (Johnbarry Green) and his ever-present sidekick (Andrew Shultz). Green lends gravitas to his portrayal of the dim yet assertive Arthur, while Shultz gives a faint air of lighthearted sarcasm with his portrayal of the ever-loyal Patsy. His rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is a standout, as is Green’s duet with the Lady of the Lake (Laura Hodos).
Director and choreographer Kimberly Dawn Smith’s staging makes the most of the limited setting, maximizing the castle’s levels and ample points of entrance/exit. She really shines in her execution of Spamalot’s large dance numbers. The aforementioned disco-esque ode to Camelot is a kaleidoscope of movement, full of crazy costumes and dancing showgirls.
The second act brings something totally different—but equally thrilling—with “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” a loving homage to the chosen people’s contributions to the stage. Sir Robin (Sahid Pabon) leads a parade of Jewish folk dancers and Fiddler on the Roof references. From the quick and witty wordplay to the over-the-top theatrics, “You Won’t Succeed” encapsulates all that is awesome in Spamalot and MNM’s masterful production.