“ALL FOR ONE. ONE FOR ALL!”
Fortunately, no one ever told Eric Idle or John Du Prez, the masterminds behind “Monty Python’s Spamalot” that it is bad luck to whistle in a theater. If they had, we might never have relived the euphoria of a live performance of “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” from the 1975 film release of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” on which the stage show is based.
The origin of the ban dates back to safety concerns in the days when stagehands used whistles and hand commands to raise and lower scenery. Considering the irreverent madcap antics of “Spamalot”–now playing in an effervescent revival that’s sure to please at the Mercury Theater Chicago on Southport–a sandbag on the head sounds preferable to a whack with a shovel, showing up lifeless for the "bring out the dead" guy, or mobilizing the Holy Hand Grenade to neutralize a killer rabbit.
It’s all riotously entertaining as director L. Walter Stearns and music director Eugene Dizon tap so deeply and effectively into this zany, high-minded, low-brow brand of satire–with a few modern references thrown in along the way–that it feels as fresh and edgy today as it did more than 50 years ago when the British troupe vaulted to international acclaim on television and film.
The terrific cast of 14–framed in a fanciful Angie Weber Miller set and decked out in ingenious Tim Hatley costumes–charge head-long into the memorable material and rousing ensemble dance numbers by choreographer Shanna Vanderwerker. From the simplicity of skipping the rules and strategically-placed fruit to a rip-roaring finale, this “Spamalot” is a visual feast fit for a king!
That king is Arthur, played to brilliant excess by Jonah D. Winston, who, with his trusty squire Patsy (a perfect role for Greg Foster), leads a comic dream team of the Knights of the Round Table–Galahad (David Sajewich), Robin (Adam Ross Brody), Bedevere (Daniel Smeriglio) and Lancelot (Karl Hamilton)–on their quest for the Holy Grail. The knights double in outrageous cameos, including Hamilton’s deft turn leading the wacky French Taunters and towering over everything as the Knights of Ni, and also including Sajewich’s stoic Black Knight. Adam Fane shines as Not Dead Fred and Herbert.
The stunning Meghan Murphy rises up amid the chaos, in a class all alone, as the Lady of the Lake–a performance that we will talk about for a long time–in a show that will surely leave you looking on the bright side of life.
MERCURY THEATER CHICAGO
MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT
through December 29th
3745 N SOUTHPORT AVE.
For more reviews, visit: Theatre In Chicago