Spamalot. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (whistles)

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Music, Theater and Dance
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARTHA McCARTNEY
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
February 18, 2015

When I originally talked to the publisher of Whidbey Life Magazine about writing, I made my preferences known and agreed to write about art, literature or gardening; no music, no dance and definitely no theater. Of course, I did not mean “Spamalot.”

So, here’s the thing. I know absolutely nothing about performing arts and have never written a “review” except online for a book or movie, and even then, it is never as in-depth as most.

Brave Sir Robin and the Minstrels, left to right: Tara Cottrill, Becky Lemay, Allenda Jenkins, Ray Hamilton

Brave Sir Robin and the Minstrels, left to right: Tara Cottrill, Becky Lemay, Allenda Jenkins, Ray Hamilton

However, in a twisted sort of “my-own-kind-of-logic” way, I think that makes me even more qualified to say what I do or don’t like. I like to be entertained and to laugh and to feel a certain sense of inclusion in the success of an event and the Whidbey Playhouse production of Spamalot provides all those things.

Knights of the Round Table, left to right: Jim Castaneda, Matt Benson, Nathan McCartney, Ray Hamilton

Knights of the Round Table, left to right: Jim Castaneda, Matt Benson, Nathan McCartney, Ray Hamilton

I was able to wheedle an invitation to a rehearsal and then went the following night to the full performance. This is a play that is full of politically incorrect stereotypes, spouting a lot of completely absurd Monty Python-isms mixed up with singing and dancing—a perfect recipe for either disaster or just truly bizarre fun. I am happy to report that the latter is achieved in this case.

One wedding, left to right: Matt Benson and Jim Reynolds

One wedding, left to right: Matt Benson and Jim Reynolds

Okay, so I know you’re going to notice the names and yes, the incredibly multi-talented Nathan McCartney, who plays King Arthur, is my cousin and, yes the amazingly gifted Amanda McCartney who plays The Lady of the Lake, is his wife and so yes, I am biased. But Ray Hamilton, who plays Sir Robin, is a complete stranger and he made me laugh so much, as did the rest of the actors.

The casting of Matt Benson as gay Sir Lancelot is a stroke of genius and so “believable.” Sir Galahad is rendered spectacularly by Jim Castaneda, who has an outstanding singing voice—one of many in the company. Kevin Wm. Meyer is nothing less than delightful and when he is on stage, he very nearly steals the show. Nate Edmiston plays dual roles and does both expertly.

Another wedding, left to right: Nathan and Amanda McCartney

Another wedding, left to right: Nathan and Amanda McCartney

I’m not even sure what to say about Jim Reynolds as Prince Herbert, except that I’m sure glad I didn’t miss seeing his performance, and I hope you don’t either.

Matthew Woodcock’s brilliant narration as the historian is wildly funny and flawless. Lukas Lowder plays Patsy to perfection and he elevated being a “sidekick” to touching, especially in the “I’m All Alone” number, which was one of my very favorite parts. Being less than impartial, I don’t want to go on and on about Nathan and Amanda McCartney; however, suffice it to say that they are shining stars in a very expensive forest.

Add to this the wonderful ensemble of Allenda Jenkins, Becky LeMay, Holly Hernandez, Joseph Morgan, Lora Eelkema, Lyndsay Loomis, Nadya Soler, Susie Thompson, Tamara Sykes, Tara Cottrill, and Tony Steadman who bring to life the Laker Girls, the Knights, the Not Yet Dead, The Not Yet Wed, the Villagers, the Jews and the Camelot Dancers and it makes for a magnificently fun way to spend an evening.

Sir Galahad and Lady of the Lake, left to right: Jim Castaneda and Amanda McCartney

Sir Galahad and Lady of the Lake, left to right: Jim Castaneda and Amanda McCartney

King Arthur and his trusty Patsy, left to right: Lukas Lowder and Nathan McCartney

King Arthur and his trusty Patsy, left to right: Lukas Lowder and Nathan McCartney

The directors Sue and Jim Riney have created a huge success and have been playing to sold-out crowds since opening night. The team of choreographers, Claudia Samano-Losada, Duanne Bacon Zinger, Trent Oman and Wendy Rue, has to be congratulated on transforming a troupe of mostly non-dancers into dancers. The entire production staff has done a stellar job—from musical direction, amazing costumes, lighting and sets, which adds so much to the performance.

And now I intend to resume my “no theater writing” rule, but only after I caution you not to miss this show with only two weekends left on the schedule.

Spamalot plays until March 1, call now and book tickets. 360-679-2239 Whidbey Playhouse, 730 SE Midway Blvd., Oak Harbor, WA.

Image at the top: One of the several roles played by Kevin Wm. Meyer

Martha is a poet, photographer, mixed-media artist, persistent gardener and candle-maker. She relocated to Whidbey Island from an undisclosed east coast location and has decided to ignore the MUST OWN A GOAT rule as well as many others.

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