UCR students brought “Monty Python’s Spamalot” to life in front of a packed house at the University Theater Thursday night. The Tony award-winning musical comedy was adapted from the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Around 7:45 p.m., the doors opened and began to let in an enormous line of people stretching from the University Theater doors to the entrance of Olmsted Hall. Fans of the original film couldn’t contain their excitement and proceeded to talk about their favorite parts of the movie while entering the theater and taking their seats. Finally, the lights dimmed and the audience was immersed into the world of “Spamalot.”
The play follows King Arthur as he embarks on a long journey to recruit knights to join him in Camelot. UCR student and third-year theatre major Khalif Gillet snagged the lead role of King Arthur and spoke about how he approached the comical character.
“King Arthur is never portrayed as a black guy so that was a challenge for me, to get over that when coming into this.” Gillet said. “When I got cast for this part, Paul Jacques, the director, said we don’t want Tim Curry’s King Arthur, we want your King Arthur.” Gillet went on to explain how not being forced to follow a particular path gave him the artistic freedom to create his own unique King Arthur. Gillet was comedic gold, producing laughter among the audience with almost every line he spoke.
King Arthur’s loyal sidekick Patsy was played by second-year theatre major Alvin Chow. Chow said that he had no trouble at all getting into character. “I honestly feel as if I am basically Patsy in real life, usually just the sidekick of anyone, really.” Chow did an excellent job of portraying the hilarious friendship dynamic between the two characters during the musical number “I’m All Alone,” in which King Arthur proceeds to sing about how alone he is even though Patsy is standing right beside him.
King Arthur finally gathers his Knights of the Round Table, which include Sir Galahad (Michael Rosenbaum), Sir Bedivere (Cat Priamos), Sir Lancelot (Josh Stephenson), Sir Robin ( Eli Reich) and Sir Not-Appearing (Silvestre Aceves). The knights gather in a Las Vegas-themed Camelot and party hard until they are approached by God, who tells them to find the Holy Grail. Along their search, they run into a castle where they are taunted by French soldiers. UCR student Giselle Austria, who played one of the French taunters, was hilarious and consequently got the audience laughing louder than they’d been all night.
Another show-stopper was second-year theatre major Isabella Lomax, who played the Lady of the Lake. Dramatic and over the top, her character kept the show alive despite being one of the few female main characters. “I had to find a lot of strength and attitude and bring a lot of energy to it.” Lomax said. “She’s important because she’s just as silly and goofy and it’s important to have that kind of woman be there and represent the females,” she explained.
The play continued with more humorous encounters between the characters and thoroughly showcased the acting skills of everyone who hit the stage. And under the direction of award-winning director and former UCR student Paul Jacques, how could the show not be a success? “It’s been a really good cast, they’re very eager to learn.” Jacques said. “In the choreography, blocking and the staging, we definitely put our own stamp on things,” he explained.
UCR’s production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” is a testament to how talented our campus is. The singing and dancing are good but the acting is certainly the strong point of this production and if you’re looking for a good, hearty laugh this is certainly a show you should see. The musical will run for two weekends, ending on Nov. 22. Fans of the original film and fans of musical theater will definitely enjoy this remarkable show.