You got your Odysseus. You got your Siegfried. You got your Don Quixote. Searchers all.
And then there’s the Medieval court quester, King Arthur, whose story was told 40 years ago by a bunch of mop-haired, irreverent Brits (no, not the Beatles) in the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” now a wacky musical with a title befitting the shenanigans: “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”
Spam, canned spiced ham, with which the Schenectady Light Opera Company closes its 88th season in hilarious fashion, exploiting the considerable musical and comic resources at its disposal and turning over the whole royal mess to director — and clown prince himself — Adam Coons and producer Jennifer Larsen.
’Monty Python’s Spamalot’
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company
WHEN: through May 17
HOW MUCH: $18 to $28
MORE INFO: 877.350.7378, or http://sloctheater.org
With book and lyrics by Python Eric Idle, and music by John Du Prez and Idle, this tale of King Arthur (John Rayome) and his coterie of nitwit knights is a delicious send-up of — let me get my list — Finns, Scots, the French, royalty, the class system, religious stereotypes, sexual stereotypes, the Broadway musical and anything related to the existential foolishness of being human.
The script is packed with — another list — wordplay, historical anachronisms (such as the Laker Girls, a cheerleading squad for the Lady of the Lake), musical anachronisms (including pop and gospel), silly bits, rear-wall projections, meta-theatrics and sophomoric humor (references to flatulence, body odor and pooping abound).
Music director Adrienne Sherman does excellent triple duty, preparing the huge cast to sing with — if this doesn’t sound contradictory — accuracy and abandon, and leading a brass-heavy (hallelujah) band from the keyboard (on Friday, the musicians sometimes overwhelmed the actors, especially under dialogue).
Choreographer Trish Scott gets the company on its toes (and in one case on its knees, a la “Fiddler on the Roof”) with nary a collision. Bob Healy’s lighting design and Joel Lord’s sound design are apt and precisely executed, and Debbie Lummis’s costumes are another source of amusement.
The hard-working ensemble changes clothes and time periods in a trice — and with a wink; they’re having a ball. Marc de la Concha, as Patsy, King Arthur’s sidekick, provides hoofbeats and humor; his turns in “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and “I’m All Alone” are sweet indeed. Like other leads, Shawn Olander-Hahn plays multiple parts, and he’s particularly funny as Herbert’s father, while Ben McCauley handles Herbert with aplomb.
Matthew Dembling delivers the comic goods as Sir Robin. Brendan Brierley’s Sir Lancelot amusingly finds his grail (oh, I forgot to say that’s a theme — finding your own grail, not THE grail, but the grail within you — but don’t get too serious about this). Rayome captures the bewildered, but determined, spirit of a guy called on the road in search of something he’s not clear about and who encounters speed bumps along the way.
Mike Bellotti will crack you up no matter what he’s wearing or which accent he’s using. And Molly Rose McGrath, whose talent is so fabulous that she could be a real-life diva — and forgiven for it — gets to play one, and she does it to the hilt. You’ll never hear “The Song That Goes Like This” and “The Diva’s Lament” sung better.
“Spamalot” is a hoot, like, for example, Mel Brooks’s “The Producers,” which will close next season. I think SLOC is on to something.