By Danielle Cuaycong
Behind the ridiculously quirky puns, outrageously dazzling outfits, and exceedingly exaggerated British and sporadic Australian accents lies the local production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. The smash hit musical, directed by Joel Trinidad and Nicky Triviño, has finally come to Manila, enabling the Filipino audience to experience this irreverent and slapstick-hilarious parody of the Arthurian legend, which had won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2005 (alongside its other various accolades).
Starring the multi-talented actress/singer Rachel Alejandro and vivacious theater diva Carla Guevera-Laforteza who alternately play the Lady of the Lake, and theater veteran Lorenz Martinez as King Arthur, Monty Python’s Spamalot depicts an over-the-top (and occasionally inappropriate) story of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and their song-ridden quest for the Holy Grail. The musical features the group's hunt for the Holy Grail with the Lady of the Lake as their guide. It turns out to be a hilarious adventure filled with encounters with outlandish places and people.
The show is obviously based in Medieval England. A miscommunication between the actors and the narrator leads to the actors immediately jumping into an introductory song about Finland (“Fisch Schlapping Song”) involving fish (surprise, surprise!). It's a musical that will easily ache you in the tummy with laughter, thanks to the script. There's a haphazard line about cattle (“A cow? What could he possibly do with a cow?”) and Alejandro riffing Luis Fonsi’s crazy-popular-and-sometimes-annoying “Despacito” in crescendo. The Knights of the Round Table are several beard-wearing men exuding a diverse array of personalities, who then burst into a complete-with-blue-skirts-and-pompoms cheerleading performance with each carrying letters to read "CAMEL TOE." With a heavy emphasis on cheesy humor, Spamalot then interacts with its audience through the fourth wall, even bringing a member of the audience on stage to take a selfie!
The cast won't disappoint either. Martinez’ acting skills are put to the test as he switches from an assertive and daunting British King Arthur to a scene where he swings his hips in a rather feminine manner. Alejandro's deeply rich voice is utter gold for her role as the Lady of the Lake.
The musical also touches on themes of LGBT and openness, with Noel Rayos and Reb Atadero becoming an unexpected couple in the end (cue the never-ending kilig screams). Perhaps the only thing that may not have seemed as dazzling is the theater set—a fortress and tower that interchange depending on the scene. It works in the actors’ favor, though, not causing distraction and funneling all the attention.
Alongside the exceedingly comical acting, one cannot neglect the meticulous effort given to the costumes. Francis Libiran, one of the most sought-after fashion designers in the industry, designed and created five brand new gowns exclusively for The Lady of the Lake for this show. From a diamond-encrusted fishtail wedding dress to a mermaid-like green gown scintillating in the theater light, the costume department makes the ambiance seem like it's New York Fashion Week!
While it may help if you’re an avid fan of Monty Python, the oh-so British comedy troupe of the late 1960s/1970s television series and its subsequent movies, this musical will indubitably appeal to many. Its eventual success will be no surprise mega thanks to its dry humor, even poking fun at the nature of musical theater, plot devices, and pop culture ("Despacito!").
Monty Python’s Spamalot runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, in Makati between July 28 and August 12.
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