False advertising! A theatrical bait-and-switch!
Though I had no idea how Raleigh Little Theatre was going to transform Monty Python's memorable "Spam Song" into a full two-act musical, I still went into Spamalot with an open mind. Imagine my keen disappointment to see a stage adaptation of some obscure film from the '70s about King Arthur and the Holy Grail instead. (Wink wink.)
Still, before dashing off that damning letter to the Office of Consumer Affairs, I should note that this crisp and risible production starts Raleigh Little Theatre's 80th season on a confident note. Director Patrick Torres has effectively assembled a production with many moving parts (including, at one point, the veritable foot of God), and it careens along briskly on the myriad banana peels in Eric Idle's script. Michael Santangelo and Bryan Phoebus' orchestra is assured—after an overambitious trumpeter gets his, during the overture.
RLT newbies and mainstays fill out the leads and supporting roles. A leonine Mark Ridenour hits some Dick Shawn notes as Arthur, with Brian Fisher on the coconut shells as his scuzzy sidekick, Patsy. Tony Hefner assays the not-that-brave Sir Robin, and James Ilsley gets laughs as dense Sir Galahad. Tim Cherry amuses, as always, as Sir Bedevere and Galahad's mom.
John Du Prez and Idle's songs, including "Not Dead Yet" and "Find Your Grail," flesh out sequences from the film. In their midst, Nicole C. Julien's work as the Lady of the Lake ably sells those send-ups of Broadway conventions, "The Song That Goes Like This" and "The Diva's Lament."
Supporting actors Forrest Wilson and Lauren Knott sell Nancy Rich's addled choreography and newcomer Hailee Olenberger steals a first-act nautical scene. Daryl Ray Carliles presides over the lunacy as the historian and narrator, in an energetic, silly tribute to the Middle Ages—of British comedy, that is.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Nights we say whee"