By Dale King
Monty Python’s Spamalot is back, and winning over audiences at the venerable Crest Theatre in Delray Beach.
While the run of the show is limited – it opened June 20 and concludes Sunday – the laughs are unrestrained, thanks to a fine ensemble that exquisitely interprets the silly songs and dialogue crafted by the Pythons in their addled “tale of the Grail.”
The performers, known together as Entr’acte Theatrix, are a talented tangle of stage players. They get a chance in this encore of a show they presented six years ago to demonstrate how they have grown since joining forces as a team.
With powerhouse actor Troy Stanley at the helm as King Arthur, the Entr’acte players sing and dance with the best of them, even adding a stage-wide tap dance into one of the musical numbers.
“We consider this production of Spamalot a celebration of our 10 years as Entr’acte Theatrix,” said the company’s founder and producer, Vicki Halmos. “We’ve captured a few of our original cast members from our 2013 production to reprise their roles.”
Spamalot is drawn from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Pythons’ movie sendup of Arthurian legend, by Python Eric Idle and composer John Du Prez. In this story, the legendary King Arthur and his faithful companion, Patsy (Greg Halmos) travel throughout his kingdom, collecting knights for the Round Table.
The recruits include Sir Robin (Christian Ortega), a collector of plague victims; Sir Lancelot (Dallas Erwin); Sir Bedevere (Chris Cimorelli) and Sir “Dennis” Galahad (Rosseroni Parris). They encounter the lovely, full-voiced Lady of the Lake (Kalli Courokos) and her “Laker Girls” in their travels.
At least one thing is quickly evident. The Entr’acte troupe has upped its game considerably in the last few years. Commanding vocalists and fine dancers populate the cast.
The show opens with an intentional misstep — “The Fish Slapping Dance.” Performers using Slavic accents dance around, swing and hit others with fish until someone steps in to remind them they are telling a tale about England, not Finland.
The maudlin tune, “He is not dead,” introduces Not Dead Fred (Ben Shaevitz), who sings mightily about why he shouldn’t be tossed into the plague cart with corpses.
After gathering up knights and setting out into the countryside, the King & Co. encounter various oddities: nasty Frenchmen, a killer rabbit, the Knights Who Say “Ni” and other strange forest dwellers. En route, Courakos, the lady with the lovely voice, offers both comic and tender songs: “Come With Me,” she sings enticingly to the King and knights, and “Find Your Grail,” a gentle reminder of the play’s goal.
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” nicked from another Python film, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and now a staple of British soccer matches and funerals, is performed here as a soft-shoe between Arthur and Patsy. “His Name is Lancelot” is a full-blown production number with singers and dancers and a melody sounding strangely like Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”
The finale contains a surprise audience participation moment, so watch out where you sit.
J.R. Coley directs this slice of wacky medieval life. Jamie Mattocks adds her special touch as choreographer and Roger Blankenship directs the melodies with flair.
Monty Python’s Spamalot plays through Sunday at the Crest Theatre at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Tickets are $35 to $45 (discounts are available) and may be purchased by calling 561-243-7922 or visiting entractetheatrix.com.