By Lilian Harrington
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle
Director Shaun McCallum
Harvest Rain Theatre (Brisbane Academy Musical Theatre)
57 Hayward St Studios
Season: from June 9. Bookings: Haywardstreet.com.au or phone 07 31037438
Spamalot was an unexpected hit and a popular take of a very successful film. This quirky, adaptation of the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, into the award-winning musical comedy Spamalot, by playwright and lyricist Eric Idle, has provided great entertainment for many an audience since the 70’s.
It has given an opportunity for Producer Tim O’Connor, and his creative team at the Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre, for a young cast, to strut their talents in a unique, experimental, and engaging, stage presentation. Director Shaun McCallum has chosen this popular, mind bending, take of Spamalot, as it provides performance course students with a chance to develop their singing and dancing talents, along with the chance to practice their comedy skills in this crazy, riotous production with its take on a rather twisted version of the legendary King Arthur and his imaginary adventures.
McCallum has always had a keen interest in Monty Python and the Holy Grail since childhood. In Spamalot he has captured a mix of pretence and reality through the music, vocals, action and dance.
He has managed to coordinate a difficult and complex script into an economically low-cost production; where normally large sets and special effects have been used on set, his crew under Ella Bordeaux and Ruby Thompson, have used roughly painted cardboard boxes, puppetry and talented actors; a little unusual, and maybe perilously placed in some cases where the action is busy, but it has created a unique effect, even when the odd box lid comes adrift.
The show is complimented by the clever choreography of Callum Mansfield, and the skilful musical direction of Dennett Hudson, who brought out must see performances from the cast.
The colourful characters written into a Monty Python production always make for interesting viewing. The audience were treated to the delightful vocals of lead female singer Eleanor Grieve, who played Lady of the Lake, and Cristian Robba Colley as Dennis /Sir Galahad, along with the very comedic Joshua Sowter as Patsy, the side kick to King Arthur who was played by Jordan Butler.
The complex plot and action, means that the audience have to focus carefully, so while the singing and dancing along with some colourful interaction, clever dialogue and attention to detail, showed some great emerging talent and skill for future audiences to see, there were some scenes where the excitement and momentum of the show created some complexity of sound, so it was hard to understand what was being said, e.g. the high pitch used by the enchanted trees, and at times the narrator spoke in a fast-paced accent making it difficult for the first time listener to comprehend what was intended.
The inspired performances from the ensemble and the use of females in what would normally be male roles e. g. Kelsey Todd as Sir Robin, was thoughtfully done and gave the actor a chance to show actor role diversity. The many costume changes meant fast changes of pace for the ensemble and created an air of expectancy and anticipation for the audience. The beautiful costume worn by the Lady of the Lake, designed by Hannah Tighe, helped to compliment the intention of the scene.
The team work was well coordinated and showed that BAMT has a promising group of artists in the 2021 Performance Course; they will help inspire future Queensland Productions. Spamalot is a fun show and a great production join in and to be part of.