Comedy unleashed at PM&L Theatre in Antioch
Throughout history, silliness has been a staple of entertainment. An art form when done right, it underlies the physical comedy of The Three Stooges in the golden era of Hollywood, as well as hilarious film and stage parodies by Mel Brooks and the antics of The Muppets.
In the annals of humor, one of the longtime favorite ambassadors of silliness is the British comedy troupe Monty Python. The group rose to fame with the BBC sketch comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” which aired from 1969 to 1974. They followed their television success with the films “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Life of Brian” and “The Meaning of Life” – all considered comedy classics by cinema historians.
It was troupe member Eric Idle who adapted “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” for the stage as “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” After a trial run in Chicago, the silly song-and-dance show debuted on Broadway in 2005, going on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical. That production featured an all-star cast including Tim Curry, Sara Ramirez, Hank Azaria, Christian Borle and David Hyde Pierce.
PM&L Theatre (also known as Palette, Masque and Lyre, Inc.) in Antioch presents its take on “Spamalot” through Aug. 6, and from the reaction of the capacity audience on opening night, it is a production that will make friends and family howl with delight and applaud with deafening enthusiasm.
Under the direction of Regina Reynolds, and produced by Betsy Grindol, PM&L’s version proves that when you embrace silliness, you don’t need Broadway’s expensive costumes and massive sets to give audiences a production they will appreciate. If you trust the material and cast quality talent, a show like “Spamalot” is guaranteed to resonate with the public.
“Spamalot” features book and lyrics by Eric Idle, with music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, based on the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
The show takes liberties with the King Arthur tale, following the king of Camelot, his sidekick, Patsy, and his knights, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Sir Robin and Sir Bedevere, as they embark on a comedic quest to find the Holy Grail, referring to the cup Jesus was said to have drunk from at the Last Supper. Along the way, they encounter hilarious characters and ridiculous situations.
The PM&L cast showcases a host of wonderful local talent including Colin Halliday as King Arthur; Madelyn Welbel as his love interest, the Lady of the Lake; Matthew Leptich as Patsy; Alex Ebert as Sir Robin; John Carpino as Sir Lancelot; Justin Charles as Sir Galahad; and Tyler Nix as Sir Bedevere.
The musical also features an enthusiastic ensemble who do a great job creating silly and memorable characters. The ensemble includes Addison Fugelseth, John Franco, Suzanne Stalker, Caryl Davidson, Kevin Kelly, Susie Perkowitz, Patrick Bast, Matthew Craig, Gary Luz, Jamie Lee, Rick Schultz, Harold Newton, Hilary Schneider, Carla Wilson, Rebecca Wietbrock and Jennifer Akin.
Several supporting players stand out for that special something they add to their characters. Fugelseth jumps out of the pack to command the spotlight in gender-bending turns as Not Dead Fred and Prince Herbert, two of the most inspired and fun supporting characters. Fugelseth does a brilliant job creating hilarious versions of both characters, and also proves herself a wonderful singer and dancer.
Franco does a standout job as both the Historian who narrates the comic tale, and as a French military guard who takes great pleasure in taunting King Arthur and his hapless knights.
Behind the scenes, credit goes to music director Natalie Colgan, choreographer Christine Jones, lighting designers Mark Audrain and Mark Badtke, sound designer Norgie Monte De Oca Mentiguez, set designer Mark Audrain, costume designer Joe Russell and the props team of Jennifer Franco, Casey Audrain, Art Jones and the cast. Stage manager Jennifer Franco is a master of keeping everything running smoothly, and the uncredited front-of-house staff ensures a grand time by all.
Community theater is a wonderful way for people of diverse backgrounds to come together and bond while creating something artistically significant. One of the joys for audience members is getting to experience the community the theater troupe represents.
Antioch, where PM&L Theatre is located, is a beautiful town filled with shops, restaurants and attractions. And it is a community that loves supporting quality artistic expressions, like PM&L Theatre. In fact, the program for “Spamalot” is overflowing with advertisements from local businesses supporting the theater and its talented performers.
When you make plans to experience “Spamalot” at PM&L Theatre, consider going early to also enjoy the village of Antioch, which has Metra train and bus access. Something Sweet, for instance, is a fantastic store just a few doors down from the theater that offers delectable ice cream, fudge and other confections.
PM&L Theatre tickets are very affordable, seats are comfortable and the theater offers a nice selection of concessions in a warm and friendly environment.
If you’re in the mood for something silly, PM&L Theatre has just the ticket. “Spamalot” is about as silly as they come.
Spamalot plays Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through August 6. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 PM and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 PM. Tickets are very affordable, seats are comfortable, and the theatre offers a nice selection of concessions in a warm and friendly environment.
PM&L Theatre is located at 877 Main Street in Antioch. For tickets call the box office at (847) 395-3055 or visit www.PMLTheatre.com.
A variation of this review is published by Northwest Herald/Shaw Media.
Another great show to put on your calendar is THE PRINCESS STRIKES BACK. This hit touring comedy is coming to Chicago for two performances. I highly recommend you catch at least one!
The Princess Strikes Back answers that question in a way everyone can relate to. It will make you smile until your cheeks burn and laugh like you haven’t laughed in years.
Coming to Chicago’s North Shore at the historic Skokie Theatre on Friday August 11 and Friday August 18,
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
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