All the more reason to head out to Swope Park for the summer theater’s well-produced, wonderfully-acted opening production of MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT (now thru Thursday, June 6). Producer Denton Yockey went out on a limb with this not particularly wholesome entry to the summer’s theater fare. But judging by Saturday night’s chilly but chortling (and packed) crowd, Starlight supporters couldn’t be happier.
If you don’t know the Python canon, you’re going to miss about 15% of the jokes. Knights Who Say Ni, Killer Rabbits and unpleasant French people are de rigeur for fans of Eric Idle and his motley crew.
But in the hands of ace director Mike Nichols, who staged the show on Broadway and came up (along with original choreographer Casey Nicolaw and the rest of the creative team) with every joke on earth, there’s 85% more that’s completely silly and fun.
Warning–your laugh lines are gonna crease in two.
Broadway vet Tom Hewitt guides the proceedings along as King Arthur, more than amply tended to by Brian Sears in the thankless role of Patsy, his major domo. Local stage babe Janine Davita shimmers and vamps as the sexy Lady of the Lake, chewing the Starlight scenery for every tasty morsel. For fans of female pulchritude, Janine and her bevy of chorines has got to be one of the best looking (and least dressed) choruses in Starlight history. The girls and ensemble guys all do themselves proud.
Director/choreographer Marc Robin does a nice job channeling the Nichols/Nicolaw original, adding some funny, contemporary bits (even ex Chiefs QB Matt Cassel gets his due) that I’m sure the Pythons would appreciate. It doesn’t get dark til about 9, which makes the first hour a little underwhelming technically. Costumes and sound are fine, but the set seems small for the big Starlight stage. Maybe that’s why the joke about the “expensive forest” fell flat (it looked expensive on Broadway).
But this isn’t a play about sets– it’s about simpering, silly swordsmen slinging songs and such. Unless you’re a masochistic Royals fan on nitrous oxide. I doubt there are more laughs in any two and a half hour period in Kansas City.
Go to Starlight and get high on SPAMALOT.