Thu 1 - Sat 3 June 7.30pm & Sat 2.30pm
Book and Lyrics by ERIC IDLE
Music by JOHN DU PREZ & ERIC IDLE
From the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
England 932 A.D. A Kingdom divided. To the West the Anglo-Saxons, to the East the French. Above nothing but Celts and some people from Scotland. In Gwynned, Powys, and Dyfed - Plague. In the kingdoms of Wessex, Sussex, Essex and Kent - Plague. In Mercia and the two Anglias - Plague. With a 50% chance of pestilence and famine coming out of the north east at twelve miles per hour. Legend tells us of an extraordinary leader, who arose from the chaos, to unite a troubled kingdom. A man with a vision who gathered Knights together in a Holy Quest. This man was Arthur, King of the Britons. For this was England!
Tickets: £19. Discounts: £18. Child: £14. Click here to book your tickets today!
The Historian & Finnish Translator: Krys O’Brien
Finnish Mayor: Lynne Fallowell
King Arthur: Robert Carpenter
Patsy: Glen Cowlard
Helena Haddock: Alison Shapley
Mr. Haddock: Paul Milwright
Monks: Lynn Lawrence, Nicola Berreen, Charlotte Cosh & Lynne Fallowell
Guard 1: Matt Hinton
Guard 2: Paul Milwright
Sir Galahad: David Foster
Mrs Galahad: Kathy Stokes
Lady of the Lake: Sarah Higginbotham
Laker Girls: Rachel Farrant, Kirsty Franks, Jo Williams, Rebecca Cowlard, Charlotte Cosh, Anika Lefevre and Lisa Comber
Sir Robyn: Susan Perry
Sir Lancelot: John Chartres
Not Dead Fred: Chris Dale
Sir Bedevere: Mervyn Wakelin
Sir Not-Appearing-In -This-Show: Chris Dale
French Taunter: Kathy Stokes
Frenchies: Val Brown and Sally Jones
Knight Of Ni: Jo Williams
Group of Ni Knights: Krys O’Brien, Sarah Thompson, Nicola Berreen, Lynn Lawrence & Sally Jones
Concord: Hannah Jones
Black Knight: Matt Hinton
Alms Collector: Lynne Fallowell
Herbert: Chris Dale
Herbert’s Father: David Foster
Minstrels: Hannah Warwick, Val Brown & Louise Anne Bateman
Voice of God: Louise Anne Bateman
Sir Bors: Jo Tuck
Nicola The Enchantress: Amy O'Donohoe
Sister Maynard: Alison Shapley
As a huge fan of all things Monty Python and the "legendary film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", I was thrilled to deputise as NODA Rep. for Jose Harrison, who was temporarily incapacitated. "Spamalot" by Eric Idle and John du Prez is the story of King Arthur, his assorted ragbag of followers and of their adventures as they search for the Holy Grail.
Using the spacious Hawth stage most effectively, director Bernard Tagliavini's show opened with an impressive Camelot castle dominating the stage. Scenery suppliers were Scenic Projects and, as with most professional theatres, the Hawth provided both lighting and sound engineers, who did a fine job.
Costumes, most colourful and an eclectic mix, but well suited, were from four separate costume suppliers, supplemented by cast members. Jayne Dowell for COS was in charge and ensured they were well fitted, none better than the sparkling Laker Girls and Cheerleaders in short red double layered skirts and black tops.
Sally Jones did well on hair and make up with some effective use of wigs for comedy effect.
King Arthur was splendidly attired in armour with a red cross on his breastplate. We were treated to a French chef - complete with rude and coarse insults spouted out from on high in the French castle - attired in modern day white chef's outfit - holding a household spatula. All this in 932AD too! But such is the hilarious absurdity of "Spamalot", that this odd mix of periods and styles were perfectly in keeping with this show.
We had a narrator, who opened the show and appeared at times throughout, power dressed as a modern day weather girl in a navy outfit and sporting modern specs. The weather map itself featured numerous rats, forecasting the plague, moving Southwards. Among the many Arthurian districts on the weather - or plaque map - were Essex, Kent and Sussex, not to mention Wessex with its own resident rat. The running gag of the narrator was beautifully and comically enacted. Marvellous comedy!
Robert Carpenter as King Arthur - "ruler of all and looking for men" - "I had a feeling" - had an impressive stature and presence, which together with his melodious and powerful baritone singing voice, showcased a real leading man, very well cast. Glen Cowlard as his faithful steed Patsy, galloping with the aid of 2 coconut halves, was immensely likeable, delightfully silly, and provided a perfect foil for Robert, never better than when Arthur sang "I'm all alone", while Patsy distinctly put out, stood next to Arthur but was totally ignored. Aah!
Sarah Higginbotham in the female lead role of the Lady of the Lake was mesmeric throughout. Her beautiful singing, charismatic personality and clear delivery ensured that all eyes were fixed upon her. A professional singer / actress, and how it showed!
A marvellous mix of dance styles with obvious shades of dance and /or music from several other hit musicals from "Fiddler on the Roof"( the Bottle dance); La Cage aux Folles; The Producers; Funny Girl; West Side Story; Singin' in the Rain; made this performance really special. We even had a few bars of Dr. Who.
COS Musical Theatre, unusually, used five choreographers, namely Charlotte Cosh, Karren Durrell, Helen Heppell, Anika Lefevre and Jo Williams. Their joint input with this show was magical. The cheerleading Laker Girls (based upon the cheerleaders of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team) in their fetching red and black outfits and using pom-poms, were very slick indeed - Lisa Comber, Charlotte Cosh, Rebecca Cowlard, Rachel Farrant, Kirsty Franks, Anika Lefevre and Jo Williams.
Also top notch were the Knights who sang in many numbers- as well as those Knights who say Ni- with their coloured umbrellas in the well loved " Always look on the bright Side of Life", led mainly by Patsy and also King Arthur.
David Foster as Sir Galahad, emerging from his Denis persona , also Herbert's cross father was very funny. I loved his cheeky retorts as Denis, " well you didn't ask" - to the King, aided by his cross mother Mrs Galahad, played to the hilt by Kathy Stokes, wondering how he became King, and who was also superbly rude as a French Taunter, French stick in hand!
Four mournful monks - Nicola Berreen, Lynne Fallowell, Lynn Lawrence and Jo Tuck - hitting themselves on the head added more great comedy.
Another star performer was Chris Dale as the wonderfully mincing and constantly singing Herbert and spirited Not Dead Fred complete with soppy voices and splendid energetic dancing to verify his distinctly living character. Exceptional comic timing too. He was also Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Show in Darth Vader garb giving a well timed disappearing act. Truly a talented performer is Chris!
John Chartres was a slightly identity confused Sir Lancelot, come to rescue what he hoped might be a maiden, until he turned "gay", started discussing curtains with the not exactly butch Herbert and found himself in gay leather attire the at centre of attention. Marvellous use was made in this scene of the multi coloured flashing disco style lights. Stereotype upon stereotype and all the funnier for that. A most enjoyable role, John
Susan Perry did well too as "Brave" Sir Robyn., "brave" being a matter of opinion but a really good characterisation by Susan for sure.
Matt Hinton was the Black Knight, not someone who surrenders easily. Who needs limbs when you have a body! Nice one Matt, even in silhouette!
Others who did well were Hannah Jones as Concorde and Ensemble; Sally Jones as another "oh so rude" Frenchie and Knight of Ni, plus Ensemble; Mervyn Wakelin as Sir Bedevere; Nicola Berreen as a monk, Knight of Ni and Ensemble.
A delightfully fishy double act was interspersed throughout the show and provided by Mr Haddock and Helena Haddock played by Paul Milwright and Alision Shipley, who was also Sister Maynard and Ensemble.
Kris O'Brien was The Historian and a Finnish translator and Ensemble and Jo Tuck was Sir Bors, and Ensemble, both players doing well.
Jo Williams was the lead Knight of Ni. Oh, how very much I would like to play that part but Jo and her fellow knights were very Ni-eally perfect! In fact, forget the Ni-eally part!
Much comedy was made of the killer rabbit with a lone toy bunny busily strutting his "frightening" stuff stage left.
The dialogue was pure Monty Python - the discourse between the two men up in the castle towers stage left and right about the coconut carrying capabilities of swallows, irritating King Arthur, who finally rode off with Patsy. As a lifelong Python devotee, I could easily have listened to this conversation all night, even though Arthur clearly could not. Most songs were well put over, none better than the "Diva's Lament" and "Whatever Happened to My Part" by Sarah. Other Act one notable scenes or songs were performed by the Finnish Mayor played by Lynne Fallowell with ensemble in the pure slapstick "Fischschlapping Song"; " I'm Arthur, King of the Britons"; "I Am Not Dead Yet" by Chris; "Lady of the Lake"; "The Song that goes Like This"; "Find Your Grail".
In Act two notable songs / scenes were "Always look on the Bright Side of Life"; "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" which included the marvellous "Fiddler" bottle dance; "His Name is Lancelot", fabulous acting and dancing throughout with great camp spoof hilariously carried out; "I'm All Alone". I enjoyed the Nicola Sturgeon send up on the step ladder and the comical solemnity of the Holy hand grenade scene.
A man named Spencer was called from the audience and presented with an award, "The Arthur" for "finding" the Holy Grail beneath his seat (some sleight of hand involved, methinks!) Spencer was later revealed to be the real life son of the excellent director, Bernard; the long Finale with many song reprises carried the very evident show vitality through to the very end.
As the Lady of the Lake was revealed to be Guinevere and thus she married Arthur, the show finally ended with "Always look on the Bright Side of Life", a fitting end to an illuminating and sparkling evening.
Brian Steel, the highly experienced Musical Director handled his nine piece band with verve, giving total support to this lively and talented company, never overpowering the singing.
Director Bernard Tagliavini wrung every drop of humour from this show and injected several of his own comic delights too. The non stop pace was so effective and the flow was captivating. With the sheer energy and non-stop humour, there could be no doubt that "Spamalot" was a distinct hit for COS Musical Theatre.
Jon Fox, deputising for Jose Harrison,
NODA District 9