TheatreVCU’s “Spamalot” Hits Home with Humor and Skill

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    “Spamalot” from TheatreVCU runs weekends through April 30 at Singleton Performing Arts Center. [PHOTOS BY AARON SUTTEN]

    Spamalot, the Broadway musical adaptation of Monty Python’s 1975 classic movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, would be a challenge for some young actors and producers, especially students, but TheatreVCU proved to be unfazed by the risk. The combination of a talented cast, impressive attention to production detail, and precise comedy timing resulted in a remarkable show from the VCU cast and production crew.

    Kikau Alvaro, director and assistant professor with TheatreVCU, made strong use of finer details to amplify the feeling of professionalism that was apparent in the production. The dramatic lighting, live music, and even the ability to ad-lib moments afforded the play a true Broadway vibe.

    One of the most important things about staying faithful to the adaptation of this musical is keeping it funny. As the original movie’s funniest moments are iconic, there could be pressure to live up to those memorable scenes. The cast of this production has a clear understanding of the comedy sensibilities of Monty Python. Each performer was able to deliver large laughs in the big moments through a shared grasp on comedic timing in the ensemble.

    But the comedy can be found in the smaller moments as well, as the details seemingly improvised by actors provide a natural humor that transcends the script. The characters are balanced well throughout the play, as the pairing of King Arthur (played by junior Chandler Matkins) with his servant, Patsy (played by fellow junior Dante Piro), is a notable example of a duo with considerable acting talent and comedic timing.

    It should be noted that in a cast weighed heavy with male leading roles, the performance of the Lady of the Lake, as played by VCU undergraduate Carmen Wiley, outshone many of her male counterparts in each musical number and scene. Her performance of the night added to the production value, and offered many laugh-out-loud moments.

    The show did find itself with another large seat to fill in adapting this musical for a college theater program: the exaggerated production. The use of a large number of male and female supporting cast members filled in the gaps. The actors on stage sang, danced, and tap-danced, their way through big musical numbers, often playing crucial characters in some of the funniest scenes. The expertise of the supporting cast was the framework that supported the main actors in producing an impressive show.

    Through talent, passion, and attention to detail, TheatreVCU executes a faithful, hilarious production of Spamalot. See Spamalot at Raymond Hodges Theatre at the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, weekends through April 30.