‘Spa­malot’ to of­fer ‘pure unadul­ter­ated silli­ness’

MNM Pro­duc­tions show­cases Monty Python’s clas­sic.

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By JAN SJOSTROM

Pom­pom wield­ing cheer­lead­ers, tap-danc­ing knights, a diva who vents her pique at not hav­ing enough scenes and a quest that in­volves mount­ing a Broad­way show. Monty Python’s Spa­malot is not your typ­i­cal Arthurian le­gend brought to the stage

The mu­si­cal, a de­scen­dant of the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, fea­tures a book and lyrics by Python alum­nus Eric Idle, who also com­posed much of the mu­sic with John Du Prez.

The show, which snapped up three 2005 Tony Awards, in­clud­ing Best Mu­si­cal, opens MNM Pro­duc­tions’ sea­son Fri­day at the Kravis Cen­ter’s Rinker Play­house.

Di rec tor-choreog ra­pher Kim­berly Dawn Smith is old enough to have watched the Bri­tish com­edy troupe’s sur­real ground­break­ing tele­vi­sion se­ries Monty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus when it first aired in the late 1960s and early 1970s and to re­mem­ber the movie fondly.

But many of her young cast mem­bers are not. “I tell them if you can let your mind go and laugh at the funny stuff you’re OK,” she said. “It’s pure unadul­ter­ated silli­ness.”

That’s good ad­vice for the au­di­ence, too.

As for her, “you for­get how silly Monty Python is,” she said. “Once you get into the script, you laugh so hard you cry.”

Al­though the mu­si­cal in­cludes fa­vorite scenes from the movie — the knight who won’t give up the fight even af­ter all his limbs are lopped off, and the French de­fend­ers who hurl cre­ative in­sults at King Arthur and his knights, for ex­am­ple — the show isn’t an ex­act stag­ing of the film.

It in­tro­duces a Lady of the Lake, ac­com­pa­nied by her scant­ily clad Laker Girls, and the mission to stage a Broad­way mu­si­cal, which plays no part in the movie.

As you might ex­pect, the mu­si­cal fea­tures sev­eral big pro­duc­tion num- bers, such as “Al­ways Look on the Bright Side of Life,” in which um­brella-wield­ing and tap-danc­ing knights cheer up a dis­cour­aged King Arthur.

The show un­abashedly sends up a num­ber of Broad­way mu­si­cals. Andrew Lloyd Web­ber par­tic­u­larly takes it on the chin with the of­ten-re­peated, overblown “The Song That Goes Like This.”

Mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Paul Reekie leads a seven-piece band. He plays two key­boards be­cause “there are so many sound ef­fects in the show,” he said.

True to Monty Python’s ir­rev­er­ent spirit, the show of­fers sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties for per­form­ers to ad lib and in­sert ref­er­ences to cur­rent events.

Laura Ho­dos, who plays the Lady of the Lake, was heard in a re­hearsal to an­nounce “I’m here to make Camelot great again.”

MNM’s team have the lines and mu­sic well in hand, said Michael Lif­shitz, who with his pro- duc­ing part­ner, Mar­cie Gor­man-Althof, own the for-profit com­pany.

The big­gest chal­lenge in mount­ing the show was fig­ur­ing out a way to get the dozens of props on and off stage and the count­less cos­tume changes ac­com­plished in a the­ater that has nei­ther a back­stage nor wing space.

“We have a cow, a gi­ant rab­bit, a cart car­ry­ing dead peo­ple, gam­ing ta­bles, gi­ant dice and a cast of 20 chang­ing cos­tumes ev­ery time they walk off stage,” Lif­shitz said. (Most per­form­ers play mul­ti­ple parts.)

Their so­lu­tion was to re­move the Rinker’s por­ta­ble stage and build a gi­ant cas­tle set with two 24-foot tow­ers that func­tions as a back­stage and dress­ing room.

MNM’s quest is to mount the show as faith­fully as pos­si­ble, Smith said, and to make sure au­di­ences go home with a smile.

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