Sept. 05--For the Columbus troupe that always looks on the silly side of life, Monty Python's Broadway musical looks like a near-perfect fit.
Shadowbox Live's stripped-down interpretation of Spamalot seems like an act of devotion, if not obsession.
Under Stev Guyer's loving but freewheeling direction, Python fans get just what they expect and more from the 2005 Tony winner "lovingly ripped off from" the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Overall, the humor is infectious -- and not just in the plague scenes.
For less-obsessed theatergoers, though, the leisurely pace violates a cardinal rule of comedy: the brisker, the better.
Besides all the puns and double-entendres already in the two-act script, Shadowbox throws in a few "ad-libs," sight gags and central Ohio references.
When the two-act show goes over the edge with fresh Shadowbox embroidery (including a Python witch sketch), the addition sometimes seems gratuitous. The cast is endearing, from Tom Cardinal's earnest King Arthur and Amy Lay's coconut-clapping sidekick, Patsy, to David Whitehouse's lumbering Lancelot.
J.T. Walker III, Jamie Barrow, Katie Psenicka, Billy DePetro and Nikki Fagin are among those who demonstrate versatility in multiple roles.
As the Lady of the Lake, who gives King Arthur his sword but later disappears for half the second act, Stephanie Shull defines "diva." The Song That Goes Like This, a sendup of Andrew Lloyd Webber, allows Shull to exercise her strong voice and equally strong talent for parody in a flashy duet with Walker's exalted Sir Dennis Galahad.
The singers and onstage band do their best with a forgettable score -- well, forgettable aside from Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, a song you can't forget even if you try.
A few touches are inspired. In the original production, the "aptly named" Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Show looked like Don Quixote by way of Man of La Mancha. At Shadowbox, the knight is a familiar face with a sunny smile by way of Columbus television. The costumes, which range from medieval-trashy to Las Vegas glitzy, reinforce the neo-vaudeville atmosphere of silly fun. The skimpy sets, though, could use more shrubbery.
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