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spamalotBy ROBERT DIGITALE

Was “Monty Python’s Spamalot” custom made for the college stage? It seemed so Thursday night after the cast at Santa Rosa Junior College nailed its presentation of this whacky musical.

The players quickly got in a groove and kept the play moving with a zany snappiness. Once King Arthur comes prancing on stage to the clip-clop of conking coconuts, the mood is set. And when the king must endure lower-class skepticism on how the coconuts came to medieval England, we get a clue that the production will wring humor out of every available subject.

Based on the cult film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the musical follows Arthur as he seeks knights for his Round Table in Camelot and later sets off on his quest for the mystical grail.

Be prepared for much skewering along the way. The play’s irreverence extends not only to God but also to kings, the English, the French, Jews and Broadway. That’s a partial list.

It helps that “Spamalot” isn’t big on nuance, soliloquies or dramatic tension. Instead, the play requires comedic timing, the occasional funny face and a few good singers who can belt out catchy, nonsensical lyrics.

For the musical numbers, the production found its anchor in Carmen Mitchell as the Lady of the Lake. Her voice seemed capable of reaching wherever she wanted to take it. Mostly she used it showtune-stopper silliness (“The Diva’s Lament”). But she also gave expression to enough gentle (if not serious) melodies to show that she is a singer of exceptional talent.

On the comedic side, Adam Blankenship regularly stole scenes in the three speaking roles he played. But plenty of laughs came to all the other leads, including Eric Titus, Erin Galloway, Jason Soares, Evan Held and Kot Takahashi and Brett Mollard.

The ensemble members added a flurry of costumes changes, plenty of chorus line kicks and enough surprises to further spice up the antics. Scenic designer Peter Crompton’s sets of castles and forest added a delightful whimsy.

The production drew a rousing ovation Thursday from the packed house at the college’s Burbank Auditorium.

“Spamalot” continues at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. The final performance will take place during the college’s Day Under the Oaks. For tickets, click here.

 

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