Omaha Community Theatre has done it again. In spades. Well, not really in spades. Clubs, perhaps? No. No. That doesn’t work. Hearts? How can anything be in hearts? Bloody absurd. Diamonds, then? Yes, I say, that’s good. Shining, shimmering, sparkling. Those words fit the production of Monty Python’s Spamalot to a tea.
From the moment the curtain rises on the “Fisch Schlapping Song “ you know you’re faced with something completely different. Especially, when it turns out that legendary King Arthur’s quest gallops, trips and stumbles in another direction.
Verily, let it be known that this live and lively, song-proliferated staged phenomenon has its roots in the film Monty Python and The Holy Grail, flowering and flourishing, branching into imaginatively loony distances wherein, betimes, anachronisms thrive and flourish.
Credit visiting New York director Mark Robinson for bringing out the best and brightest from a terrifically talented and hard working cast of performers with local day jobs.
The top ten bits and pieces to take home delighted:
* The sacred rules for the use of The Holy Grenade of Antioch.
* Celebrating the ancient tradition of men who are queens gussied up to a fare-thee-well.
* Fabulous Fiddler On the Roof-like hoofing.
* The towering Knight who says “ni.” Help! Repeating that dread word has made my blood run cold, chills up and down my spine, Aladdin’s lamp is mine, the dream I dreamed…oh. Sorry.
* Visually babbling Marcel Marceau
* Four flatulent Frenchmen coordinating their blasts.
* The Flying Nun.
* A take-off on of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber excesses.
* A diatribe about the Divine Right of Kings.
* A debate about coconuts. By the way, at the first anniversary of the Broadway opening of this show, the “World’s Largest Coconut Orchestra”, 1,789 people clapping half coconut shells, performed outside the theatre. A record for this musical experience was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. Until the record was broken by 5,567 people in London one year, one month later. (Source: Wikipedia).
This cast of 24 amazingly, incredibly, marvelously doubles, triples and quadruples into such an astonishing panoply of characters that it boggles the mind, causes the tongue to cling to the roof of the mouth, moistens the seat and brings tears to the eyes of the beholder. Laud a mercy, they must be panting and puffing backstage swiftly slipping into and out of Lydia Dawson’s astonishing array of brilliant costumes. When not dressing and undressing, everyone speaks, sings, dances with superb skill.
Note especially the sturdy worthiness and vigorous élan of Nick Albrecht as Sir Arthur, uh, sorry, Lord Arthur, oh, sorry, King Arthur. As his servant Patsy, Brian Priesman has wonderful understated innocence, hard to maintain when all around so many others are proclaiming and declaiming with style. And keep an eye and an ear out for Matthias Jeske, a fine find in seven roles, each a peach, a pearl, a plum.
Kudos too to the Playhouse for including biographical info about creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez. They’re in the program book. No, Idle and Du Prez are not in the book! There are words there about them.
Meanwhile, more words about this production: Hilarious. Fantastic. Extraordinary.
Monty Python’s Spamalot continues through June 28 at Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre, Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Weds.-Sat.: 7:30 p.m. Sunday: 2 p.m. Tickets $25-$40 www.OmahaPlayhouse.org