News Column

CLT'S 'Spamalot' a laugh riot, start to finish [Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)]

August 14, 2013

YellowBrix

AUBURN-- Blockbuster is a seriously inadequate understatement for the current Community Little Theatre production of "Spamalot." It's a start-to-finish laugh riot. The show opened Aug. 9 to a packed house and standing ovations.

Moreover, its sets, costumes, choreography and exceptionally accomplished cast set the bar high for any CLT musical comedy presentation to come.

Go and Do

Remaining performances of "Spamalot" are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, Aug. 15-17, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn. For tickets call 783-0958 or visitwww.laclt.com.

The 2005 Broadway best musical Tony-winner is a huge show in every sense. Co-directors John Blanchette and Richard Martin, both veteran directors, met major challenges with skill and imagination.

The plot is ages-old, telling of King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable as they seek the Holy Grail. With all the cheeky impudence of British TV's classic "Monty Python's Flying Circus," the play revives scores of classic gags and inside jokes. Understanding them is totally optional for the audience; they are great fun, and they all defy explanation.

John Nutting as King Arthur leads this quirky cast of characters with regal bearing, a fine singing voice and an unyielding disregard for the absurdity that surrounds him.

David Handley portrays Patsy, the king's squire whose unquestioning allegiance is reminiscent of Don Quixote's companion, Sancho Panza.

Their duet near the beginning, "King Arthur's Song," sets the tone for their friendship, and it makes the comic irony of Arthur's song, "I'm All Alone," near the end all the more amusing with Patsy's doleful reaction to the king's insensitivity.

King Arthur assembles a preposterous band of knights led by Sir Galahad (Sir Dennis Galahad, to be exact) played by Derrick Lacasse; Sean Wallace as Sir Lancelot; John Daggett as Sir Robin; and Dan Crawford as Sir Bedevere.

King Arthur, Patsy and the knights of Camelot give a rousing rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," which is probably the show's most familiar number.

Michael Litchfield, a veteran of CLT and area theatre productions, appears in multiple roles. His comedic skills are given full rein as "Not Dead Fred," a French guard, a minstrel and Prince Herbert.

Rhonda Webber delivers a bravura performance as Lady of the Lake. Her beautiful and powerful voice does full justice to the song. She also excels in the production number "Come With Me" with King Arthur and the Laker Girls, a bevy of beauties appearing frequently for Zeigfeld-style dances in skimpy costumes. Webber's solo number, "The Diva's Lament," is outstanding, as are her contributions in "Find Your Grail" and "Twice in Every Show."

The Laker Girls are Heather Marichal, Jennifer McClure-Groover, Olivia Mayo, Rebecca Caron, Katie Lauze and Jennifer Fox. Their numbers are excellent, thanks to their dancing skills and very good choreography by Vincent Ratsavong and Rebecca Caron, who are co- choreographers, and Leah Fournier, dance captain.

The Monty Pythonesque brand of surrealistic humor parodies several Broadway composers and performers. It takes cuts at Andrew Lloyd Webber's style, and shows such as "The Producers." In "Spamalot," the archetypal chorus line gets a going-over in "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" with Daggett's Sir Robin and the minstrels.

Multiple roles give many of the cast members chances to shine in a variety of sketches.

Don Kane does very well as the Knight of No and Tim the Enchanter; Dan Crawford doubles as Dennis' mother: Sean Wallace is an enthusiastic taunter at the French castle; Gerry Therrien does a fine job as the Black Knight and Herbert's exasperated father. Others in supporting roles are Max Middleton, Christopher Hodgkin, Steve Barter, Eric Brakey, Jeffrey Fairfield, and John Blanchette as the Voice of God.

Paul G. Caron, music director, undertook a major technical challenge by placing the 13-piece orchestra on the theater's third floor where, by video and audio linkage, they provided wonderful accompaniment.

Other stars of this show include the many production crew members. Costumer was Pat Spilecki, assisted by Becca Spilecki, Jennifer Fox and Sophie Warren. They created scores of remarkable costumes.

The sets for "Spamalot" are mind-boggling in their quality and ingenuity of execution. There's a Trojan Rabbit that towers over the knights, and there are several castles and a forest.

In addition to his co-direction duties, Richard Martin handled the set and light design, all of which contributed immensely to the show. Katie St. Pierre was producer.

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