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REVIEW: Candlelight Theatre’s ‘Spamalot’ makes the audience laugh a lot

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REVIEW WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA PERRYMAN
cperryman@21st-centurymedia.com

The British comedy group Monty Python may have been formed in 1969, but there is no doubt they still have a cult following. Movies such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “And Now For Something Completely Different” and “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” are just a few of their movies. The group also hosted a television show, has written books and even plays, such as “Spamalot,” which debuted on Broadway in 2005.

photo/candlelight theatre Zachary Chiero taunts King Arthur (Brian McCole) during The Candlelight Theatre's production of 'Monty Python's Spamalot,' on stage through Feb. 28.

photo/candlelight theatre
Zachary Chiero taunts King Arthur (Brian McCole) during The Candlelight Theatre’s production of ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot,’ on stage through Feb. 28.

“Spamalot” features books and lyrics by Monty Python veteran Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez and Idle. The musical is “lovingly ripped off from the motion picture ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’” “Spamalot” incorporates many of the beloved aspects of the movie — King Arthur and his ragtag band of knights, the fierce Black Knight, the hilarious French Taunters, the crazy peasants, ready to burn a harmless woman for being a witch, coconuts, rabbits, quests, the not quite dead and so much more. The show also adds some refreshing new elements, including the Lady of the Lake (a phenomenal performance by Tiffany Dawn Christopher), and, of course, catchy musical numbers such as “I Am Not Dead Yet,” “The Song That Goes Like This,” “Find your Grail” and my personal favorites, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and “I’m All Alone.”
The story is familiar to fans — King Arthur (Brian McCole) is searching the land in an attempt to assemble his Knights of the Round Table. He meets an array of interesting characters and challenging situations before his crew is formed — Sir Robin (Anthony Connell), Sir Lancelot (Ryan Ruggles), Sir Galahad (Sam Nagel) and Sir Bedevere (Dan Healy). Once united, the group is sent on the ultimate quest — retrieve the Holy Grail. Of course there are obstacles, including a harrowing yet hilarious incident with the French. Will the knights succeed? Will Lancelot save Prince Herbert from his overbearing father? Will Sir Robin ever make it to Broadway? The answer can only be found on Candlelight’s stage where “Spamalot,” marvelously directed and choreographed by Peter John Rios, can be found until Feb. 28.
Candlelight’s cast is very strong, with powerhouse performances from McCole and his knights. McCole is powerful and commanding, yet comical. His faithful servant Patsy is well played by Brett Anderson, who does a terrific job playing the coconuts. Anderson has a gorgeous voice and playful interactions with the audience.
Several actors play more than one character, including Healy, who plays not only the flatulent Bedevere but Galahad’s mother and a clueless guard. Ruggles doubles as the frightening Knight of Ni, and Nagel tackles the part of the Black Knight while Lancelot is absent from the stage. In addition to the knights, McCole and Anderson, Zachary Chiero was one of my favorite performers. He is tremendous, incredibly funny, as Not Dead Fred, Prince Herbert, The French Taunter and a minstrel. Candlelights large ensemble cast is expressive and energetic.
Timothy Cannon’s costumes are excellent. The knights were well suited, King Arthur looks splendid and The Lady of the Lake’s dresses are stunning. I was particularly impressed with the outfits for the Knights Who Say Ni. The set, by Jeff Reim, wasn’t outlandish and it worked well, especially the forest, which was aided by great lighting by Mark Clapp. The show also has wonderful musical direction by Caty Butler, sound by Dennis Mahoney and wigs by Lisa Miller Challenger and Clayton Stacey, with maybe the exception of Sir Robin’s wig, which didn’t do much for Connell.
It’s important to remember “Spamalot” is an irreverent comedy that pokes fun at just about everything. One of the best things about the play is that it doesn’t take itself very seriously. It’s just fun and it’s clear the cast is enjoying the show as much as the audience. There is some language and adult themes, so the show may not be appropriate for young children. Candlelight recommends ages 12 and up. A fog machine is used during the performance.

IF YOU GO

“Spamalot” runs at Candlelight Theatre, 2208 Millers Road, Wilmington, Del., through Feb. 28. Tickets are $59 for adults. All tickets include dinner and the show. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more. Call the box office for more information.
Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings. Doors open at 6 p.m. with buffet until 7 p.m. and show at 8. Sunday afternoons the doors open at 1 p.m. Buffet is until 2:30 with a 3 p.m. show. The buffet includes chicken cordon bleu with hollandaise, pan seared pork with jalapeno sauce, roasted beef with mushrooms with demi glaze, salmon beurre blanc, garlic mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, a salad and dessert bar and more.
For more information, call 302-475-2313 or visit www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org.

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