Theatre Review: ‘Spamalot’ at Kavinoky Theatre

The cast of “Spamalot” at Kavinoky Theatre.

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is one of my all time favorite movies. In 2005 I learned about the Broadway Musical adaptation “Spamalot” when it was on the Tony Awards, and instantly fell in love. I have seen the show a handful of times, and it always brings me joy. The songs are goofy, the story makes little sense, and the characters are always over the top. This is a perfect show to allow actors to go above and beyond, and it should be filled with loads of belly laughs. That is, when the actors just give it their all, but sometimes, when the entire principal cast doesn’t give it their all, a bit of the spammy magic gets lost.

“Spamalot” is a goofy good time. . .Go find your Grail, and see this show!

“Spamalot” tells the tale of King Arthur and his knights of the round table who are given a quest by God, to go and find the Holy Grail. Simple huh? Riddled with gags, zany antics, and big Broadway musical numbers, this show is sure to tickle your funny bone, and it does.

The ensemble is phenomenal in this show. Playing numerous characters, each member of the ensemble bares it all on stage, taking on the feat of bringing to life a well known story. Standouts include Kevin R. Kennedy and Doug Weyand, who get a million laughs each at the many characters that they play in the show. Kennedy’s intellectual historian and Prince Hubert are crowd favorites. Weyand’s Mrs Galahad, Guard Taunter, and Hubert’s Father are priceless.

Michele Marie Roberts is perfect in her role of “The Lady Of The Lake.” She has a fantastic comedic ability, and has no shame making some hilarious artistic choices. Her performances in “Find Your Grail” and “What Ever Happened To My Part?” stop the show. She is top notch.

Arin Dandes is hilarious as Patsy, King Arthur’s confidant and horse sound effect maker (Patsy bangs two coconuts together to make horse noises while Arthur trots along). Her facial expressions and gestures are characters in their own right. Dandes makes the character her own, and she is absolutely entertaining. Her performance in “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” is entertaining and fun as well!

Louis Colaiacovo was born to play Sir Robin, the brave. Well, the knight who bravely soils himself and who would rather be part of a musical theatre troupe instead of a brotherhood of knights. He is equal parts silly and charming and has a great voice. His performance of “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway” is phenomenal, and you laugh and smile every time he enters the stage. He is a wonderful addition to the cast.

Greg Gjurich plays King Arthur in this show, and while King Arthur is meant to be the straight man to all the nonsense happening around him, Gjurich seems a little disconnected with the material, and at times looks like he is phoning it in. He brings it together in act two, however, when everything in the story starts falling a part, and he is all alone in a Dark and Very Expensive Forest. His performances of “Find Your Grail” and “I’m All Alone” are enjoyable.

This production had it’s opening night flaws, including some technical issues with the LED screen that projected images behind the action, a few sour notes from the orchestra, and some microphone issues, but overall, the show is a fun night out, which I did enjoy.

David King’s set design and Diane Almeter Jones’ props and set dressing really set the tone for this obscure and hilarious show. You can see the work that went into this production, and it does not go unnoticed. The small details really make this show all the more enjoyable.

Overall, “Spamalot” is a goofy good time. I just wish all of the leads were in on the goofiness and brought their A games. I can only assume that this will be rectified as the show continues it’s run. Go find your Grail, and see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

“Spamalot” runs until February 3, 2019 and is presented at the Kavinoky Theatre. For more information, click here.

First Look: ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ at Kavinoky Theatre

A couple years ago, Arts Services of WNY participated in “Arts and Economic Prosperity 5,” a data review and analysis of 126 cultural and not-for-profit organizations that proved that the arts heavily contributes to our region’s economic  growth. The arts sector is a $352.1 million industry that supports all levels of employment, businesses of all sizes, cultural tourism, and the ever-important quality of life.

Slice that number down to one theatre and one production. “Kavinoky Theatre is an economic engine for a lot of businesses,” says the theatre’s executive artistic director Loraine O’Donnell.  ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot,’ the second of two large-scale musicals on the theatre’s schedule this season, opens Friday, January 11. O’Donnell says the show costs more than $100,000 to produce, mostly spent two months before opening night, and mostly with local vendors and businesses.  Places like DC Theatricks (for dozens of costumes, from tights and tunics to flowing robes), Scheule Paint Company (gallons of paint for David King’s elaborate set), area restaurants that craft dinner-theatre packages, and even the corner convenience store (ice ice, baby) play important cameo roles in this show.

“ ‘Spamalot’ is one of the largest musicals we’ve produced here,” O’Donnell says. “There are 19 actors on stage, plus a 10 piece orchestra, and four assistant stage managers to help the cast with more than 100 costume changes and plenty of scene changes, too.”

In other words, it takes a 12th century English village to make this production happen.

‘Spamalot’  is the stage adaptation inspired by the 1975 film ‘Monty Python and the  Holy Grail.’ While Kavinoky isn’t the first theatre to produce the show locally, as the region’s largest producing house, its audience expects an extraordinary experience. This means hiring union musicians (“they’re the same musicians who play in the orchestra pit at Shea’s,” O’Donnell says), creating a visual experience to match, and hiring top-notch local actors, and crew.  Or to paraphrase a song from the show “You Won’t Succeed in Buffalo if you don’t make it awesome.”

For O’Donnell, walking that tight rope between best quality and best value is a true balancing act. Ticket sales only provide part of the theatre’s income stream: the rest comes from private donors, corporate sponsors, and grants which are increasingly competitive to earn. “In this business, breaking even is considered a triumph,” O’Donnell says. “That’s why it’s so important to get people through the doors.”

Inspiring its audience with quality productions is at the heart of Kavinoky’s newly-defined mission to produce a mix of the classics, musicals and new works in order to expose our patrons and D’Youville students to the diverse creativity in all genres of theatre. O’Donnell says, “We’re going to continue to do two musicals a year.  It helps grow the subscriber base and musicals bring in new people.  Last season ‘Mamma Mia’s!” single ticket sales increased by 50%, and subscriptions increased by 20%.” While musicals have higher production expenses, O’Donnell says, “You have to spend money to make money.”

For ‘Spamalot,’ the Kavinoky has assembled a cast of some of Buffalo’s finest musical theatre talent: Gregory Gjurich as King Arthur, Louis Colaiacovo as Sir Robin, Dudney Joseph as Sir Galahad, Bobby Cooke as Sir Bedevere, Steve Copps as Sir Lancelot, Arin Lee Dandes as Patsy, and Michele Marie Roberts as The Lady of the Lake, with an ensemble including  Kelly Copps, Arianne Davidow, Doug Weyand, and others, directed and choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel Formato.

As we might expect, the cast is enthusiastic about the production and the timeless Monty Python clever wordplay. “Yes, it’s great to be king in the kingdom of Kavinoky with such spectacular subjects…and nobody had to vote for me,” says Gregory Gjurich, borrowing a line from  about his role as King Arthur. “I love the Monty Python movies. I aspire to any chance to work with Lynne, the Kavinoky, and plus they offered me the role, so I said hey OK! (That doesn’t happen often).”  Similarly psyched is Michele Marie Roberts, otherwise known as The Lady of the Lake. “I’m a working mother of two from Kenmore, and I volunteer monthly at Bingo,” she says. So when Lynne Kurdziel Formato and Loraine O’Donnell ask you to play an egomaniac diva at the Kavinoky with an amazing cast, you do it.”

‘Spamalot’ is on stage from January 11 to Februarry 3.  For tickets, call (716) 829-7668 or visit