Coming & Going

By Jim Buckley 

King Arthur (Jordan Lemmond) and his trusty steed (Clayton Barry) set off in search of the Holy Grail in the SBHS production of Monty Python's Spamalot.

Spamalot  is indeed "(lovingly) ripped off form the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail," as its publicity proclaims, but it also cribs unapologetically from Life of Brian and other Python creations.  No matter; it's all good.  In fact, from what I saw of the cast's first dress rehearsal, it's allvery, very good indeed.

Spamalot is a ridiculously clever stage musical replete with ensembles of powerful voices singing hummable tunes, along with salacious humor (don't worry; the younger kids won't get the dirty jokes), slapstick ruminations, taunting (and tres effete) Frenchmen (and women, elaborate costumes, and frenetic pacing in a most satisfying and guffaw-inducing package of Python humor.

That aforementioned "frenetic pacing" is thanks to the professionally fine tuned direction of SBHS's Performing Arts Department Chair Otto Layman.  Mike Madden's lighting, UCSB Professor Christina McCarthy's precise choreography, and Lise Lange's untiringly creative costumes all make for a superior evening of theatre fun.  And, that's before we consider the smooth musicality of the UCSB Jazz Band, as directed by Jon Nathan.

Many of Spamalot's cast members were also in what I consider one of the most enjoyable stage plays in memory, high-school or otherwise: last year's The Drowsy Chaperone.  If, for example, a play featured Emilio Madrid singing his side-splitting rendition of "Aldolpho" (from The Drowsy Chaperone) I would attend every performance.  Emilio is back and plays the peasant "Dennis"  who becomes Sir Galahad and displays the same kind of comic timing and subtle irreverence.  Laconic and sly Clayton Barry carries the cocoanuts, and frequently King Arthur, played by the multi-talented Jordan Lemmond, when called upon.  Mary Cusimano's authoritative (yet surprisingly mellifluous) voice as the Lady of the Lake could probably be heard in San Luis Obispo County without a microphone.