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ALT stages ‘Spamalot’ with admirable aplomb

FOR THE RECORD: The actor who portrayed Prince Herbert has been corrected in this review.

It’s a lucrative business to translate popular culture from one medium into another. While it’s hard to live up to the original, fans come out in droves and generally have a very good time.

Such is the case with “Spamalot,” a theatrical spin-off of the 1975 cult classic movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The Broadway musical comedy was a big hit in 2005, and is currently receiving an excellent revival at the Albuquerque Little Theatre.

The plot revolves around King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail, the cup supposedly used at the Last Supper.

But the plot is just an excuse for amusing musical numbers and lots of irreverent jokes and funny sketches. It’s quite silly, but a lot of fun, especially for Python fans.

The show is part adaptation of the original film and part spoof of the Broadway musical genre, with parodies of “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Producers,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and more.

Much of the success of this aspect of the show comes from the highly talented Tasha X. Waters as the Lady from the Sea, who excels as both singer and actor. Her first-act number, “Find Your Grail,” is a parody of the inspirational feel-good Broadway song, but is also a brilliant demonstration of her vocal range. We don’t see her in the first half of the second act, but when she finally returns she enters signing the song, “Whatever happened to my Part?” – “This is one unhappy diva, the producers have deceived her.”

Director Henry Avery has assembled a fine ensemble of comic actors, who handle with dexterity the difficult task of Python-style British humor. Especially successful is Logan Scott Mitchell as Prince Herbert, a less than masculine prince delighted when he is mistaken for a damsel in distress by the sexually confused Sir Lancelot (adroitly played by Nicholas Handley). This develops into an especially funny coming out party for Lancelot in a nightclub, complete with gay chorus boys.

Besides classic sketches and characters from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” such as the knights’ woodland encounters with the Knight of Ni, the Black Knight, the French Taunter, and Tim the Enchanter, Python fans will be delighted to hear the classic song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from that other cult classic Python film, “Life of Brian.”

The design elements are appropriately tawdry, and the antiquarian Little Theatre a lovely venue for a musical comedy of this sort.

The only problem was the sound system, at least the night I saw the show.

Sometimes the mics went out for seconds at a time and at other times the amplification reverberated annoyingly.

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