Review: Go on a quest to Sanibel, see superb 'Spamalot' at BIG ARTS

By Chris Silk

They came. They saw. They sang. They danced.

Sir Robin slew the vicious Chicken of Bristol. Arthur, king of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, sovereign of all England, vanquished the Black Knight. Audiences savored the glories (and the dancing girls) of Camelot.

And it was good. Very, very good. Spectacular even.

'Become a knight and you'll go far / in suspenders and a bra!'

'Spamalot,' the musical 'lovingly ripped off' from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,' clip-clopped into BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel this weekend.

Much like last season's 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' the crew at BIG ARTS, led this time by director/choreographer Amy Marie McCleary, prove able to conceive, plan and execute a staggeringly creative vision. Better, their success comes in a unique space that most folks would deem hostile (if not downright impossible) to a big, splashy, over-the-top fantasy musical like 'Spamalot.'

McCleary firmly establishes her bona fides as one of the best director/choreographer hyphenates in Southwest Florida with this show. She roots the show solidly within the silly, slapstick, snarky fun of the original Monty Python troupe. Yet, she's not afraid to embellish; witness shout-outs to 'Les Miserables,' 'Gangnam Style' and even a sly reference to musical 'Company' that sent theatre-lovers in the audience into a fit of giggles.


... the slightly frantic, gleeful, whiz-bang atmosphere of 'Spamalot' fits the show perfectly. Mounted in just 12 days, from learning the intricate choreography to building the massive set, the show represents a triumph for all involved.

'Spamalot' gallops up, down, across and through the stage. McCleary draws on her 'Scoundrels' experience to again make the exciting choreography seem to float in the theater's three-quarter thrust space. Actors enter from the aisles as well as backstage. There are flips, tumbles and pirouettes.

Nearly every number - from silly opener 'Finland' to 'The Holy Grail' - dazzles.