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arts & leisure

A Night at the Theatre with Jonathan Fox: Legendary Holy Grail (of comedy) unearthed at the Forestburgh Playhouse!

Spamalot cast as they are appearing at the Forestburgh Playhouse
Contributed photo

By Jonathan Fox
July 18, 2013

It’s true. The Holy Grail has been found. With considerable help from the dark and twisted minds of Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, Python alum Eric Idle (book and lyrics) created a “lovingly ripped-off” musical version of their film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” turned it upside down and teamed up with John Du Prez (additional music) to create “Monty Python's Spamalot,” now playing in Forestburgh.

Granted, Idle started with comedic gold. That said, in the wrong hands, anything (especially Python-esque antics) can go horribly wrong, but fortunately for audiences in the Catskills “Spamalot” is a riotous, hilarious romp through the Middle Ages that left me (and the packed house) gasping for air, unable to control our constant laughter, chortles and guffaws. The show itself is brilliant. Nominated for 14 Tony Awards, the original production won Best Musical in 2005, was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million during its highly touted run on Broadway. Forestburg Playhouse’s (FBP) “Spamalot” director Larry Smiglewski has the great good fortune to have an incredibly talented cast to work with, and under his extraordinary guidance, has let them loose in the “Miracle of the Forest” to run amok, singing, dancing and cavorting with style, flair and panache to spare.

From the moment the curtain rose, I was enthralled. Harlan D. Penn’s scenic design is delightful, Gretchen Halle’s costuming choices spot-on, and Ken Chamberlain’s sound design was thankfully flawless, all of which added to the overall production values that were enhanced by musical director Kevin Lawson conducting, which once again struck all of the right chords. The ensemble is terrific, racing at breakneck speed through the nonstop hilarity that Idle’s script encourages, and the principle players are a comedic force to be reckoned with. Kevin Loreque (as King Arthur) is wildly talented and his understanding of the material is beyond reproach. Loreque’s resumé is impressive and his performance as Arthur illustrates the point. From the smallest arch of his brow to the broadest slapstick pratfalls, Loreque commands the stage and entertains with such skill, that he set the bar very high indeed for the rest of the cast.