— a review by Lin McNulty —
No matter how long a play is in rehearsals, no matter the months that go into planning, there is one element that remains an unknown until opening night: the audience reaction. And last night’s opening performance of “Spamalot” brought together a lively, talented, eager cast with an equally-lively, eager audience in a synergistic coalescence reminiscent of, well, Orcas Center productions of old.
Director Doug Bechtel’s dream to produce a musical, after years of successful stage plays with Actors Theater of Orcas Island, found its awakening moment on Thursday night at Orcas Center. As Musical Director Jim Shaffer-Bauck notes in the program, “If you are yearning for some kind of ridiculously difficult task, approach Doug Bechtel next time you see him in The Lower and just reply “sure” to whatever he says, then resign yourself to not getting a full night’s sleep for the next few months.” That speaks volumes about the nature of this undertaking.
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” spins the tale of the Arthurian Legend of the quest for the holy grail in a most amusing, irreverent manner as puns, songs, and tap dancing weave their way around a stage that is constantly in flux. Frank Michels, as King Arthur, fully embodies the determined King in song and dance. Holly King’s Lady of the Lake character beautifully fills the house with her strong vocals. In their brief moments together on stage, they fall in love (or something like that) and the audience fully embraces them.
King Arthur’s knights, Chris Della Santa, Aaimee Johnson (great mustache!), Indy Zoeller, Joe Andrews, and Jared Larson sing and dance their way into the heart of the audience. Tony Lee’s impersonations are always a joy and this was no exception.
The Laker Girls — Melinda Milligan, Suzanne Gropper, Michele Griskey, Anne Marie Schultz, Liz Doane, and Margo Van Gelder — mastered all kinds of dance moves and song, frolicking about the stage as if they had been doing it for years.
It’s a raucous quick-moving production, with something new happening each moment.
The production continues at Orcas Center this Friday and Saturday, and next week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for Monty Python’s Spamalot are $17, $13 for students, $2 off for Orcas Center members, and may be purchased now at www.orcascenter.org or by calling 376-2281 ext. 1 or visiting the Orcas Center Box Office open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 12-2 pm. $5 subsidized tickets available at the Box Office. For more information about Orcas Center’s 2017 season visit www.orcascenter.org.