On June 29th, 2013, I attended Ziegfeld Theatre Company’s production of Spamalot at the Ziegfeld Theater. I have loved the comedy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the music of Spamalot for many years, so I was excited to see what the company would do with it onstage. Ziegfeld most certainly did not disappoint the audience’s expectations. The wildly politically incorrect humor and catchy tunes kept everyone laughing and tapping their foot along all night long.
I was immediately impressed with the scale of the set; a full castle façade surrounding the proscenium. However, I was increasingly impressed as the show progressed from scene to scene and the massive sets, costumes, and props kept filing in. There was a sheer effortlessness to the way that the cast moved from location to location, era to era, and character to character. This ease gave the humor a razor sharp edge; making it feel as though the absurd were perfectly normal. The quirky tone made this wonderful display of sets, costumes, props, makeup, lighting, and sound even more enjoyable to witness.
On top of an incredible design crew, this show had a phenomenal cast. The company managed to maintain harmonies while acting, dancing, and often times being downright silly. There was a great deal of overacting and dancing that looked more like frolicking, but this landed perfectly when combined with the wonderful comedic timing and carefully choreographed sequences. Although every member of the company was delightful to watch, special credit must be given to the men onstage. It is no easy feat to find a group of ten men who can act, sing, dance, and make you laugh all in the same beat. As if that were not impressive enough, several of the men played cross-dressing roles, adding to the hilariously outrageous scenes and escalating them to another level of humor.
Perhaps the most brazen of these men was Aaron Cole, who played Lancelot, The French Taunter, Knight of Ni, and Ted The Enchanter. Aaron brought a quirky pride and shameless sense of humor to each role, making them terribly fun to watch. The over-the-top display of his coming out in “His Name is Lancelot” was only met by Marc Nielson’s performance as Sir Robin in “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway”. Both songs fearlessly trampled the line between safe and wildly inappropriate; making sweeping generalizations, dancing through stereotypes, and keeping us laughing the entire time at the absurdity of it all.
As a whole, this show mixed the mundane with the outrageous, oozing absurdity at every opportunity. It was this beautiful convergence of enthusiastic nonsense that made the night so enjoyable. While this may not be the most family friendly of shows, it definitely fits the bill for a night of uproarious laughter. Bravo, Ziegfeld Theatre Company. Pop down to see them soon, as the last performance is July 13th, 2013.