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Splendidly silly

It’s not ham, it’s not jam – it’s ‘SPAMalot.’

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If you like comedy involving silly noises, people hitting each other with fishes and funny crones, then Monty Python’s “Spamalot” is the show for you.

Dean Rosen and Rachel Alejandro as Sir Galahad and Lady Of The Lake (Photos by Jaypee Maristaza) /(mb.com.ph)

Dean Rosen and Rachel Alejandro as Sir Galahad and Lady Of The Lake (Photos by Jaypee Maristaza)

Described as leaving audiences “weak with laughter” by The Independent UK, “Spamalot” is the brainchild of awarded and member of the brilliant British comedy troupe Monty Python, Eric Idle. It is based on the 1975 film “Monty Python And The Holy Grail,” a fun peek into Camelot and the burnished legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

Bulletin Entertainment recently got the chance to see the Philippine adaptation of “Spamalot” (with glass of red wine in hand, natch) produced by Upstart Productions. True enough, the Tony award-winning musical is a “loving rip off” of the cult film but here’s the thing: “Spamalot” is better, funnier and crazier than the movie, with more hits than misses.

Ongoing until Aug. 12 at the Carlos P. Romulo auditorium of RCBC Plaza, “Spamalot” is a lesson on how to improve on a well-loved property by adding musical numbers to the mix, impromptu gags, as well as pop culture elements (hello, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus).
In an interview right after the show, director Joel Trinidad (he co-directs with Nicky Triviño) said they did all of these while staying true to the spirit of the original.

A scene from ‘Spamalot’ (mb.com.ph)

A scene from ‘Spamalot’

“We really have to stick to the script, but everything else – the side gags, the special effects – we could do whatever we want. It’s true that our vision is to pay tribute to the existing work but we also have to make something new out of it,” he said.

“Spamalot” achieves a state that approaches comic insanity, but beneath its cheerfully deranged surface the show consistently taps into the liberating power of farce. It reminds every one that we are unimpeded when we surrender to sheer foolishness once in a while.
Apart from King Arthur (Lorenz Martinez) and his knights, “Spamalot” also trains the spotlight on a mythical being known as the Lady Of The Lake as played by multi-awarded artist Rachel Alejandro (who is alternating with Carla Guevara-Laforteza).

Rachel’s performance is more than admirable. She looked quite fab as well wearing the gowns designed exclusively for the show by celebrated fashion designer Francis Libiran.

Her work is not easy with ballads and jazzy reprises galore but Rachel delivers with confidence, drawing attention to her self-indulgent diva character, most especially in the scene where she sang “What happened To My Part?”

In a separate interview, Rachel said being part of a comedy show is quite challenging for her.

The cast of ‘Spamalot’ (mb.com.ph)

The cast of ‘Spamalot’

“Actually I just went nuts with it,” she said, laughing. “Kasi I’m very different in real life, people always told me na when I’m on stage, para akong sinasaniban and this whole other persona comes within. It was kinda hard for me because I am a pop singer. It took me a while to get to the point.”

Well, it wasn’t really obvious as she and Lorenz share good chemistry, giving the audience epic sweet moments but without losing the joke inherent to the whole idea in the process.

Other members of the cast also deserve special mention for their “hidden” talents (most of the cast members play multiple roles), especially in the scene where they sang the iconic “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.”

There are several transitions and line cues which somehow felt a bit too long here and there. Then there’s also a few timing issues, but this was overshadowed by the superb performances.

The stage set up, which the cast sarcastically described as “very expensive,” was used democratically. The cast certainly made the most of it, turning in a standout performance in such a compact space.

And we have a happy ending, too, with King Arthur finding true love and the Holy Grail as well. Where did he find it? Well, you should see for yourself.

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