Tuesday, 15 November 2016

"Spamalot" by The ESNA Players
Loughborough Town Hall.
What can I say about "Spamalot"? Well my cheeks are still aching from laughter, and this comes from someone who has seen the musical more than once. It's one of the most fun musicals that you can see. It has such wonderfully comic songs, thanks to John Du Prez and Eric Idle and is one musical that should be performed at this time of year because it's such a great run up to the panto season.
That's how it felt; just like a great big fun, colourful pantomime of strange characters who shouldn't be seen on the same stage but do. Where else would you find a footballer, mime artists, Adele, a killer rabbit, Donald Trump, a knight with no limbs, tap dancers, showgirls, Barack Obama, rude Frenchmen and the real Eric Idle as God (type cast a bit there), all in one place and on one stage?
The answer is of course.... Loughborough.
The story is about King Arthur as he goes about with his trusty servant, Patsy, to get knights for his round table. God (Eric Idle) gives him a task in finding the Holy Grail. In his search he encounters many colourful characters.
Directed by James Nelson, and who better to direct it as he has first hand experience of the musical, having performed in the West End production of the show with the likes of Warwick Davies, Joe Pasquale and Todd Carty. James knows what makes this musical work and work it definitely did, keeping it fresh and topical and retaining the all essential Python humour.
David Lovell (King Arthur) was magnificently restrained in his role, maintaining the air of authority as King but with that wonderful comedy timing.
Dan Grooms (Patsy) clip clopped his way round Arthur and also joined in the choreographed pieces with a wonderful air of nonchalance. Several shining moments for Dan including of course his big song "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life", plus his little forlorn face when Arthur sang "I'm All Alone" got the audience well and truly on his side. A wonderfully comic part for Dan.
Emma Adcock (Lady Of The Lake) is just a great comic role for a female and Emma took the role by the scruff of the neck and shook every last bit of diva and comedy out of it. One of my favourite songs from this musical is "The Song that Goes Like This" and she, along with Sir Galahad made this comedy classic, classic.
Talking of Sir Galahad, this role was taken by Benjamin Hardy. Master of the hair toss, well in this part anyway, he seems to make every role he takes on a special piece of that particular play. This is no different. A lovely comic piece which Ben always shines at.
Arthur's knights, Richard French (Sir Lancelot), James Daw (Sir Belvedere), Jarrod Makin (Sir Robin) all excelled in these comic roles both individually and as an ensemble.
Daniel Robinson was a scream as Prince Herbert, the Prince locked away by his father to marry a woman he didn't love... and we all knew why that is! Another wonderful comedy role culminating in the brilliant big number "His Name Is Lancelot". Just one of many many musical crowd pleasers.
John Smith (Brother Maynard) had a wonderful speech about the grenade, which may not sound like a funny piece but you've not heard this one.
Jonny Painting (The Historian) tried in vain to bring some assemblance and order to the play. His first effort set the scene for what was to come. At the start he described England which was mis heard as Finland and kicked off with a knee and thigh slapping "Fisch Schlapping Dance".
A brilliant ensemble which were like pop up characters, appearing from anywhere and everywhere, using the whole stage and auditorium and even appearing through trap doors in the stage.
The set was brilliant, awash with colour, there was always somewhere else to look at, all courtesy of Scenic Design.
The lighting was spectacular, especially the thunderclap lightning, thanks to Andy Harding.
The sound had a couple of little hiccups, but it was opening night so I always expect the occasional blip, but a wonderful job done by the sound crew of Rob Temperton and Mark Di Martino Marriott for getting it crystal clear. The acoustics at Loughborough Town Hall are excellent and this shows what a great job they did.
James Nelson was the choreographer, who did an amazing job with all of the various dance styles.
Talking of different styles, the music covers many styles and the master of the orchestration, Mr Jon Orton was in charge. i always expect the very best sound when Jon is at the helm and I am never disappointed, and I wasn;t tonight either. Think back to that tingle of hearing the orchestra kick up at the start of the old TV series "Sunday Night at the London palladium" and that's the feeling I got when Jon and the orchestra started. Pure musical magic.
A wonderful wardrobe of clothes (Nicola Scoggins and Molly Limpets) and some lightning costume changes as well, incredibly well managed by the stage crew and managers i noted. There were some outrageous wigs on show (Benjamin Hardy).
You may not notice all of the props that were used in this show but after it had ended, I was treated to a back stage visit and the amount of props used were stupendous. A nightmare for props person Helen Whysall, if any were not in their rightful place in the wings and backstage.
You know I could go on forever about what a wonderful show this is but you really ought to make your way to Loughborogh Town Hall and see for yourself.
A fantastic comedy, which every time I see it is different due to the maintenance of the script and lyrics, forever keeping it topical, just listen to "You Won't Succeed In Showbiz" for a multitude of name checks.
You have to hear one joke (if they dare to repeat it) to believe the closeness to the finger joints it sails. But it's all delivered in such amazing gusto and all in the best possible taste that surely no one could ever take offence... could they?
It's another smash hit for ESNA to add to all of their other previous smash hits. So make sure you get your tickets while there are some left to buy because "Spamalot" is only on until Saturday 19 November 2016. Go on treat yourself to a look at the brighter side of life.

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