Photo: Top Row: Nicole Thordsen (Sir Robin), Izaak Heath (Sir Lancelot), John Griffin (Sir Bedevere) & Michael Coury Murdock (Sir Galahad). Bottom Row: Michael Hunter (Patsy) & Bruce Vieira (King Arthur). Photo by Jere Torkesen & HariettePearl Fuggit
Novato Theater Company’s current production Spamalot is an amusing and fun-filled musical on stage now through March 3. Based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the play won Eric Idle a Tony Award for Best Musical in 2005. This show is entertaining from start to finish thanks to excellent choreography and musical staging by Marilyn Izdebski who also produced the show.
The creativity of the director (Larry Williams) and production team along with the large cast’s fine acting, singing and dancing bring this hilarious parody of King Arthur’s legend to life. A wonderful live band features Daniel Savio (Keyboard, Conductor), Christopher Hewitt (Keyboard), Zach Miller (Bass) and Dan Cook (Drums). Savio’s musical direction brings out the best of John DuPrez’ and Eric Idle’s original music.
As Act One begins, the “Historian” (Bethe Jensen) appears on a castle balcony and provides an overview of life in England around the year 900. Incredible sound and energy comes off the stage as the music begins and the large ensemble performs the first song and dance number “Fisch Schlapping.” Next Bruce Vieira gives a powerful performance of “King Arthur’s Song”. He is a commanding yet comical King Arthur leading the quest for the Holy Grail.
Another highlight in Act One is a delightful rendition of the song “I’m Not Dead Yet” featuring Kevin Allen (Not Dead Fred), Nicole Thordsen (Sir Robin) and Izaak Heath (Sir Lancelot). The next scenes showcase the extraordinary talent of Dani Innocenti Beem as the Lady of the Lake. She sings “The Song that Goes Like This” beautifully with Michael Coury Murdock (Sir Galahad).
Other stand out performances include John Griffin as Sir Bedevere, Jere Torkelsen as God, Sir Not Appearing & Brother Maynard and Paul Hogarth as The French Taunter & Minstrel. The four main dancers (Abigail Burton, Shino Yamagami Cline, Olivia Ekoue Totou and Hannah Passanisi) add much to the show especially as “Laker Girls” (complete with pom-poms) and “Showgirls” as the setting moves to a Vegas-like Court of Camelot. Kudos to Tracy Bell Redig for her bold costume design.
In Act Two, King Arthur and his side-kick Patsy (Michael Hunter) get lost in the forest. They are soon joined by the full company for the play’s signature song “Always Look on the Bright Side.” Other stand out songs include Beem singing “Whatever Happened to My Part,” and Allen performing “Where Are You/Here Are You” as Prince Herbert.
Right before the finale, Arthur, Patsy and the Knights sing “The Grail’s Been Found” then the full company ends the show with a wedding scene reprising the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Soon the whole audience is singing along and smiling.
Coming up next at Novato Theater Company is Noises Off by Michael Frayn, directed by Carl Jordan, June 20-July 14.