‘What happens in Spamalot stays in Spamalot’

Millbrook Playhouse brings the laughs with classic comedy

MILL HALL — As a loony lampoon, “Spamalot” is bound to make you laugh-a-lot.

Millbrook unleashes Monty Python’s “Spamalot” for 7:30 p.m. performances tonight, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. finale on the Playhouse’s Main Stage, 258 Country Club Lane.

With book and lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez, there are obvious reasons to “Always Look on the Right Side of (both) Life” — and of “Spamalot.”

One of the show’s most unique features of is that instead of 25-30 cast members, Millbrook’s “Spamalot” has pruned the number to 11. And each actor projects several distinct characters, while making all the required quick costume changes.

Those familiar with the silly storyline will blink twice if they’re looking for a bevy of gorgeous cheerleaders and Laker Girls. Heck, in this version, all the dancing beauties aren’t even played by females.

Millbrook’s hilarious acting and innovative technical designs blend cohesively with its team of director, music director and choreographer to make “Spamalot” very funny, farcical entertainment.

Top marks to Robert W. Schneider, returning to Millbrook’s director’s chair for the fifth time, ably assisted by music director Patrick Hoagland and his backstage band’s rousing renditions.

Then Catherine Deluce’s highly energetic choreography of the many dance numbers deservedly brought both laughs and applause.

Under David Leidholdt’s fourth year as producing artistic director, Millbrook’s productions may have attained their highest professional quality. This is certainly due in large part to the continuing emphasis on the shows’ technical designs.

“Spamalot” is a prime example where the lighting, set, sound and props designs warrant recognition, with costume design meriting special plaudits. Even with a small cast, costuming crews provide an amazing panoramic of probably close to 100 costumes.

There’s plenty of barbs and current references to make this irreverent show relevant: “Whatever Happens in Spamalot Stays in Spamalot,” and the protester’s sign “Keep Spamalot Great.”

Travis Mitchell heads the cast, effectively playing a somewhat bumbling King Arthur, directed to search for the Holy Grail. While recruiting his Knights of the Round Table, he belts out “I’m All Alone” (although he never is).

David Groccia is funny as Arthur’s put-upon servant Patsy, following his King while clapping coconut shells to recreate their horses’ trotting.

The only female in the cast, Samm Carroll, with a great alto voice, nicely hits all the high notes as the stunning Lady of the Lake, eventually agreeing to marry Arthur and answer to the name of Guinevere.

Brad Foster Reinking, David B. Friedman, Nick Martiniano and James Cella (with the funniest facial expressions) are Arthur’s befuddled, funny knights, each giving a topnotch characterization.

Playing multiple roles, and often donning female dancers’ attire are choreographer Dax Valdes, Ryan Lauer and Mackinnley Bowden, with Aaron Kelley serving as the show’s historian of sorts.

Musically, “The Song That Goes Like This” is not only reprised late I Act I, but again in Act II.

If the catchy tune “Always Look on the Bright Side” sounds like it should be included in a sing-along, the audience only has to wait till the curtain call when the cast “turns the page.”

And although Millbrook’s fast paced, very entertaining “Spamalot” isn’t an audience participation show, just a word of warning: It’s wise to stay out of seat A 101.

For more information, visit www.millbrookplay house.org or call the box office at 570-748-8183.

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