King Arthur and his knights have come to Fordham — and for that we should all be thankful.
The Mimes and Mummers production of Monty Python’s Spamalot is great fun whether you know all the jokes going in or are a Python neophyte. Bursting with spectacle and delightful performances, it’s the perfect cure for the winter blues.
“Lovingly ripped off” from the classic comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the show is a comic retelling of the King Arthur legend. The king and his loyal servant Patsy travel the length of Britain searching for brave men to join the Knights of the Round Table.
Once he has his men (who include the reckless Sir Lancelot and meek Sir Robin), Arthur is commanded by God (with the support of the mystical Lady of the Lake) to find the Holy Grail. The knights go on raucous adventures both individually and as a group as they embark on their absurdly fun quest.
Director Tim Rozmus, a Mimes alumnus, shepherds all the action with a sure hand- the comedy could easily turn incoherent, but to his credit that doesn’t happen.
The band, under the direction of Sean Andrews, plays John Du Prez and Eric Idle’s brassy score with heart and feeling.
Sally Beriont’s jazzy choreography utilizes tap, a style the Mimes have not used much before but works well here. She also ensures that the big dance numbers throughout the show have the requisite pop.
The set by Sarah Hill utilizes mainly a simple castle backdrop, which seems at odds with the rest of the show, which is done bigger. This ironic design choice makes sense, however, once the characters enter a “dark and very expensive forest” in act two.
Elle Crane’s lavish costumes, for both the main characters and extras, fit Spamalot’s mood to a tee — whether knight uniform or Laker Girl outfit, they all serve a humorous purpose.
Biddy Bacos is a wonderful King Arthur, leading on the knights with vim and vigor. She also sells the moments when the king is ironically stewing in sorrow, as in the number “I’m All Alone.”
As his inspiration and sometime love interest the Lady of the Lake, Tara Minogue almost blows the roof off the Collins Theatre. Her powerhouse voice is well suited to songs like “Find Your Grail” and “Diva’s Lament” (along with “The Song That Goes Like This,” her crowd-pleasing duet with Pat Loftus’s Galahad.) It’s great to see this Mimes fixture shine in this great role.
Katie Dolan plays Arthur’s put-upon servant Patsy with expert comic timing- she has the best lines in the book, involving cats and Christians. She also rousingly leads “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” a plea to Arthur to stay positive.
David Schillinger, until now only cast in dramas, proves his musical comedy chops as the hilariously terrified Sir Robin. He leads arguably the most physically taxing number of the show, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” with charisma and grace.
Luke Witherell is hysterical in both the small roles of the Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter, and his main role as Sir Lancelot, a brave knight who discovers his softer side. As his love interest, Matt Mayer is slightly one-note, though amusing overall.
With this production, the Mimes prove they can do right by big shows. Spamalot is a holy grail of musical comedy, brought to life in a production that will help audiences see the bright side of life.