In Colorado Springs, Funky Little Theatre Company does a bang-up job with the Python spoof
In its first-ever musical, Funky Little Theatre Company hits the bullseye with Spamalot, a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian legend. Running through Aug. 17, talented songsters, fine acting and a well-synched ensemble made for an entertaining show opening weekend at the westside Colorado Springs theatre.
Spamalot follows the infamous tale of Camelot and King Arthur (Josh Neal) gallivanting around England to recruit his knights for the roundtable. Neal is a formidable Arthur, strong in voice but at times robotic in delivery through the storyline’s colorful banter. He finds his knights in comical encounters until the growing flock receives a call from God to find the Holy Grail — and so begins the strange quest peppered with classic medieval shenanigans.
Adapted from the 1975 cult classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the original 2005 Broadway production won three Tony awards, including Best Musical. The show’s musical score is fun and sassy, an easy choice as Funky’s first trek into musical theatre but not without obstacles: mainly, a larger-than-life undertaking for a modest stage. The cast of 20 barely managed its small space at times, some actors easing into the careful choreography better than others. Still, there were few noticeable gaffes in a show that is highly forgiving in its comic interaction with the audience. From lighting, props, set and sound, the show’s crew worked its space well, the piped-in music only occasionally overwhelming the live actors.
Hapless Knights of the Round Table in ‘Spamalot.’ Photo: Danielle Trina
As the show opens, a historian seriously narrates a brief overview of medieval England — and from there, the show is pure frivolity, the kind of experience enriched by multiple viewings to catch the clever directorial nuances. Each actor one-ups the next as the action spikes in increasingly outlandish antics. Between storyline, staging, music and scene changes, there is little drag even into the second act with its predictable outcome.
Appearing most recently in UCCS’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” Funky newcomer Cheerish Evans is a vocal powerhouse and fine addition to the Funky troupe. Playing the ethereal Lady of the Lake, Evans is equal parts actress and vocalist filling the stage with bawdy comedic flamboyance.
Kyle Husted is King Arthur’s dutiful servant Patsy, who follows him around banging two coconut shells to replicate horses’ hooves as the duo canter about the countryside — eventually rounding-up goofballs Robin, Lancelot, Bedevere and Galahad. Along the way, the bungling misfits meet beautiful dancing girls, flatulent Frenchmen, and killer rabbits amid the lighter side of plague and pestilence.
Now in its fifth season, Funky Little Theatre Company has consistently challenged its own comfort levels in play selection, casting and overcoming logistics — yet prospering in the wake of bold choices. Spamalot’s subplots play with gender norms: a feminine prince protesting his arranged marriage in preference to his leanings toward Sir Lancelot. Another Funky newcomer, Jackson Hurford-Reynolds, embodies the role of gender-bending Herbert with ease, relishing the chance to stretch his comic bounds. And, in fact, as the show progresses, several male actors take on feminine personas to challenge traditional roles.
Funky’s founding artistic director, Chris Medina, lands his perfect part as not just Sir Galahad, but also the mysterious Black Knight. He nails lame and clueless with perfection, making victory all the sweeter as the band of blundering knights eventually prevail.
More than half the cast is the show’s ensemble, but many are well-known to local stages in main roles. A credit to Funky’s mantra, casting is never stagnant, wings are stretched, and hidden talents uncovered by experience.
Spamalot is a fun, wacky parody of the Arthurian legend and a must-see for Python fans. As a first musical effort by Funky, it’s a winner.
An avid patron, promoter and long-past performer, April Tooke has a passion for the performing arts. A former broadcast news journalist, PR person and freelance writer, these days she’s acting the role of an administrative manager by day, but nights and weekends she's seeking out the next theatrical experience.