THE COCONUTS ARE ‘ALWAYS LOOKING ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE’. MARIN SHAKES STAGES THEIR FIRST MUSICAL AS T
“BRING OUT YOUR DEAD” THIS MUSICAL IS A LAUGH RIOT, MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT MUSICAL IS IRRESISTIBLE
Marin Shakespeare Company continues their 30th season staging their first musical. The banging coconuts are trotting at the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre as the Nights of the Round Table gather. SPAMALOT a cult musical comedy that tops Rocky Horror and based on the hit film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” is as ridiculous as it is enjoyable. It is now on stage in Forrest Meadows on the campus of Dominican University in San Rafael through August 25th. SPAMALOT is appreciated by Python fans and newcomers to the British camp. Directed by long time MSC vet Robert Currier he says he is excited to stage the first musical at the Forest Meadows Stage; “Imagine my delight when I discovered that Paul Smith and Rick Wallace, the music director and choreographer at the Mountain Play loved this show as much as I do” says Currier. Both Smith and Wallace along with Currier have assembled a talented cast of 12 for a romp with the coconut shells.
Executive Director of MSC Lesley Currier says she is excited to celebrate 30 years at the Forest Meadows Stage; “After 30 years we wanted to bring something different to our audiences, we wanted to do something that is for all our generations.” Currier admits that staging a Broadway musical comes with new challenges. “This full size musical includes close to 200 costumes and some actors have eleven costume changers”. Currier loves to comment on the hit song from the show "The iconic song 'Always look on the Bright Side' is apparently the most popular song performed at British funerals", "we are having a blast doing this show."
Considered a modern classic, SPAMALOT parodies the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table who always look on the brighter side. The musical takes some of the best gags from the movie “The Knights of Ni,'' the Cow and of course the man-eating rabbit. Including some musical jazz hands in “His Name is Lancelot” and one Jewish shtick. The superb Ariel Zuckerman plays Lancelot and steals the show in his disco themed transformation of the icon Knight. There are many moments of comedic genius, including the Lady of the Lake, singing the Andrew Lloyd Webber send-up "The Song That Goes Like This" is the smartest, funniest comedic song from Eric Idle’s book and John Du Prez’ score.
SPAMALOT has the range of humor that includes crude, elementary humor, and Benny Hill. It also includes some social commentary from the lowly peasant Dennis played by the accomplished Patrick Russell who also appears as one of the Knights. Outraged by the injustice of monarchy, he says, “strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!” The Knights are led by the daft King Arthur, played by the terrific Jarion Monroe who opens the first act with "King Arthur’s Song” with his trusty sidekick, Patsy.
The impeccable Bryan Munar carries the show with his trusty coconut shells as Patsy and sings one of the banner songs “Always Look on the Brighter Side of Life”; his voice is ideal. Choreographer Rick Wallace brought the tap dance all the charm of the Broadway show. This pop tune is the theme of the show, reminding the audience that despite all the ridiculous realities of life there is always something to smile about.
SPAMALOT relishes in breaking the fourth wall as the characters remind the audience how ridiculous it is to mix the Middle Ages with a jazz hands. "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" sung by the keen Phillip Percy Williams as the shy Robin Hood is full of fun British humor.
Susan Zelinsky is radiant as the self-professed diva, The Lady of the Lake, as she sings “The Song That Goes Like This.” Idles’ script only calls for one female lead and the flawless Zelinsky lovely breaks the fourth wall seeking a larger role in the show. New to the MSC craft needs the use of microphones and body mics designed by sound expert Clint Bejakian mix well with the live music. The Mt Play Music director Paul Smith and his 12 member pit brought the best out of the cast and the rich sound that filled Forest Meadows.
The versatile Ariel Zuckerman brings excellent comedic timing to Sir Lancelot, especially in his dry delivery in the first act the "His Name is Lancelot" number, one of the anthem songs in the second act of the show that really takes off, thanks to Zuckermans' enthusiasm. Also in the cast Joseph Patrick O’Malley wears many hats including the very funny “Not Dead Fred” from the “bring out your dead” scene. Michael McDonald, Patrick Russell, Seana Nicol, Leah Paris, Chelsey Ristaino and MSC summer interns fill out the many other roles including the Blood Thirsty rabbit, and the Nights of Ni. Monty Python fans will love all the shticks from the film and won't care about the show's missed jokes.
The craft team includes set designer Jackson Currier’s familiar Castle set MSC audience have seen in the past, and a slew of fun props designed by Joe Els including swords and a full size cow that drops on stage. The larger than life Trojan Rabbit and the little meat eating bunny are highlights of Eis’ props. 170 costumes were needed to make this round table a colorful renaissance faire, designed by Michael Berg including the Dark Knights armor that calls for head and arms to give away. The lighting by April George turns into party mode for Lancelot's makeover camp performance. Fight director Richard Pallazot has some fun swashbuckling challenges, and stage managers Liz Matos and Margurite Sugden move the cast of 12 that looks like a company of 30 on and off the Meadows stage with ease.
SPAMALOT is still strong enough to appeal to newcomers as well, and this was the perfect musical to begin Marin Shakes new goal to stage musicals. Next up at MSC is the classic A MIDSUMMERS NIGHT’S DREAM opens September 5th and includes a 100% diverse cast headed by Terrance Smith and Eliza Bolvin. Look for some readings and events at MSC new rehearsal space at 514 Fourth St San Rafeal. But in the meantime look for something “completely different GO SEE SPAMALOT and bring your own coconuts.
Marin Shakespeare Company 30th Anniversary Presents
Book and Lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez
Directed by Robert Currier
Music Director Paul Smith
Must Close August 25, 2019
Marin Shakespeare Company,
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre,
890 Belle Avenue, San Rafael CA.
2 hours with one 15 min intermisson
Tickets at http://www.marinshakespeare.org
Photos by Jay Yamada
NICO AND XUN with Vmedia Arts and GO SEE A SHOW Visit MSC first staged musical
THE CAST Joseph Patrick O’Malley, Jarion Monroe, Bryan Munar, Phillip Percy Williams, Ariel Zuckerman, Michael P. McDonald. Nathan Townsend Levy, Patrick Russell. Susan Zelinsky, Casey Anne Apregan, Michaella Barton, Seana Nicol, Leah Parris, Chelsey Ristaino, Julia Saunders, Amy Stringer,
and a keen staff of MSC Summer Interns.
CRAFT TEAM Directed by Robert Currier, and his team Paul Smith, Rick Wallace, Michael Berg, Richard Pallaziol, April George, Lesley Schisgall Currier, Joel Eis, Jackson Currier, Clint Bajakian, Liz Matos, Marguerite Sugden