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Citrus Valley High School's 'Spamalot' brings the fun to Redlands [Redlands Daily Facts (CA)]

October 12, 2013

YellowBrix

Monty Python lovers and those who have yet to become Python lovers will all have a blast with the musical "Spamalot" at Redlands' Citrus Valley High School.

I mean this is a ripping good time.

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the film on which "Spamalot" is based, is at the top of my personal funniest-movies-ever-made list. ("Arthur," "My Cousin Vinny," "Young Frankenstein," "Parenthood," "This is Spinal Tap," "Burglar," "The Muppet Movie," "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Vibes" round out my list. My choices reflect my age, I'm sure. I hear tell the Marx Bros. and Danny Kaye were hilarious.)

I introduced my son to the film when he was in elementary school, and I'll never forget how proud I was one night at dinner when, at the height of a fight with his sister, he yelled, "I wave my privates at your aunties."

But one of the problems with seeing the musical version of a comedy you love is that you know all of the punchlines already.

"Spamalot" counters that largely with fresh humor in the musical numbers.

Like the movie, the musical steps out of the gate with silliness. You won't even be ready for it.

The costumes are sensational. Citrus Valley stayed true to the characters and their looks, so when Arthur and Patsy come clip- clopping down the aisle it's like a visit from your favorite friends.

There is so much to love here. The concept of Patsy and his coconuts is silliness genius.

Some good comedy was lost in the swallow discussion. To waste that brilliance is a tragedy. Actors, slow down and speak exaggeratedly clearly, especially when using a fake accent.

There was some content I'm surprised wasn't edited out for high school appropriateness, and am glad about that. There's no room for prudishness in the theater. They tossed the more offensive cuss words and kept the rest. Kudos.

I was reviewing the dress rehearsal, and the programs were not made yet, so I don't have the all actors' names to include, sadly.

The "Not Yet Dead" actress' dancing was outstanding. Her physical spirit and whimsy were just right for that bit.

Dennis' "woman" had good enunciation. I love that they had a male play a woman, true to the Python way.

I am really impressed with the staging. The Lady of the Lake (Imani Jacobs) and her Laker Girls were just as green and shimmery as in the professional production.

In "This is the Song That Goes Like This," it's really important to make the lines clear because they're all funny. Every flipping word of that song is funny.

There's an inside joke added in, nodding to a previous show I didn't see. I love that kind of thing. It was so funny. I love feeling let in.

Imani does a great job doing Vegas-style singing in her "Welcome to Camelot" scene. She nails it.

Andrew To as Patsy sings "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and could not have sung it better. Purists will say, "Hey, that's from 'Life of Brian,' not 'Holy Grail'!" It's too good not to use. Get over it.

Possibly the world's favorite scene is the battle with the Dark Night. There's a lot of pressure to do it well. They did it well, but the actor needs to remember to let his sleeves hang limp after his arms have been chopped off, and he's a little hard to hear with the echo under the mask.

Brave Sir Robin, played by Mckenzie Graham-Howard, has what I think is the funniest song in the show, "You Won't Succeed in Broadway if you Don't Have Any Jews," but with the tambourines, the fake accent and all the dancing, it's hard to hear the lyrics. It might just be her mic needs turning up. The choreography for that scene is way fun.

Imani has multiple songs in different styles and was well cast. It is a joy to listen to that girl sing.

Disco Lancelot, played by Benjamin Swanson, is worth the price of admission. His scene knows how to bring the fun.

I loved director Elena Villa's decisions for the "I'm All Alone" scene. People will laugh throughout. And well executed by Nicholas Ferguson as King Arthur and Andrew as Patsy.

This is a well written show with hum-able songs. Citrus Valley brings great choreography, costumes, blocking, staging and singing to it. And there is an adorable rabbit.

Do not let the chance to see it pass you by.

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