4 Stars out of 4
There are people who say that the educated silliness of Monty Python is an acquired taste. I acquired it early and have been a lifelong fan—if you are not, please take my glee over the Mercury Theatre Chicago’s new SPAMALOT production as you will. L.Walter Stearns has helmed a keenly talented cast on the adequate stage of the Mercury into a stellar evening of beloved Python Canon. He is aided by the ingenious choreography of Shanna Vanderwerker who quotes and reconstructs everything from Vegas to folk dance to vintage music theatre. And there are those costumes: Tim Hatley has done a Broadway worthy job of creating medieval grime to sequin adorned Diva gown.
SPAMALOT is the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail brought to the Broadway stage. It makes fun of itself: the number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” is a self-deprecating, self-aware, belly laugh producing bit of brilliance.
The entire ensemble brings an energy and wit to a production that is every bit as wondrous as what you will find downtown. The cast is truly remarkable: Jonah D. Winston’s deep voiced, optimistic and naive King Arthur is on a quest, or several quests, accompanied by Patsy, played by ideal sidekick Greg Foster. Meghan Murphy’s Lady of the Lake is a stand out—not for nothing is she well known for her one woman show.
There are updated lines and they place some of the jokes firmly in Chicago, making the show feel familiar and comfortable even as some of the humor isn’t: ”I Am Not Dead Yet” a song for the Plague…..
We live in difficult times and sometimes you need a night of humor, entertainment and good vocabulary. What I loved about Python in my youth was that it never talked down to me to get a laugh. There was a certain surrealistic quality about the non sequiturs (“The Fish Slapping Song”) and it was clear that the Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones and Palin team had intellect, and they created satire that was accessible while still being smart. Mercury Theatre worthily carries on the tradition. This is a SPAMALOT not to miss! And take someone who doesn’t know Python, and get them hooked.
SPAMALOT runs Wednesdays through Sundays until November 3 at the Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago in Lakeview . For tickets and information go to Mercury Theater Chicago or call 773-325-1700