LOWE DOWN | By JIM LOWE
COLCHESTER — “Monty Python’s Spamalot” aims to offend just about everyone. But in the Saint Michael’s Playhouse production, which opened the company’s 2015 season of professional theater June 16, nobody had time to be offended — they were too busy laughing.
The zany and ribald musical was based on the comedy classic film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” by Python original Eric Idle, with extra music by John du Prez. A parody very, very loosely based on “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,” the Broadway hit earned three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and 14 nominations.
The plot, as much as there is one, centers on King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail — or for some respect, for that matter. Idle’s script explodes the Arthur legend into unexpected bits about oppressed societies, gay rights, French culture and just about everything else. And, of course, Broadway.
The show steals plenty from Busby Berkley and 1930s-’50s Hollywood musicals. In short, it’s an extravaganza of bad jokes sung and danced to wonderfully.
At the June 16 performance, the Saint Michael’s Playhouse production proved well-cast and effervescent. It didn’t hurt that the director was Keith Andrews, responsible for last year’s excellent “Young Frankenstein,” with music direction by St. Mike’s veteran Tom Cleary, one of Vermont’s best stage musicians.
Jason Law led the colorful cast as the clueless King Arthur, wryly funny as well as a fine singer with the appropriate heroic baritone. But the diva honors go to Charlotte Munson, a brilliant singer with the skill to change like a chameleon, as the beautiful Lady of the Lake, who got hers one way or another.
The little diva award goes to Brian Golub, whose brilliant singing as Prince Herbert was simultaneously haunting and hilarious. Brett Figel was excellent and appropriately understated as Arthur’s factotum Patsy.
Drew Lewis was silly macho as Sir Lancelot until he was found out; Perry Sook’s Sir Galahad was already hilariously out. (It’s hard to imagine this show at St. Mike’s 20 years ago.) The young men and women, playing myriad parts, proved particularly fine singers and dancers.
The production pretty much followed the Broadway original, to the point of using its costumes by Tim Hatley. Tim Case’s set, lit by Mark Wilson, looked just like Broadway, too. Per usual for St. Mike’s, the production level was very high.
However, the St. Mike’s production added some unique Vermont features — and they certainly were fun.
Saint Michael’s Playhouse
Saint Michael’s Playhouse presents “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” the Eric Idle Broadway musical, June 16-27 at Saint Michael’s College’s McCarthy Arts Center in Colchester. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, plus 2 p.m. Saturday matinees. Tickets are $34-$44; call 802-654-2281, or go online to www.saintmichaelsplahouse.org.