UTS Backstage presented their final and largest production of 2017 at the NIDA Playhouse Theatre during the short but entertaining period of November 22-25. The simplified adaption of the Tony Award Winning Musical Monty Python’s Spamalot (and original 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail) was littered with small beautiful moments of comedy, musicality and talent across all areas of the cast and crew.
The show’s director Michael Karagiannakis has brought together a vibrant ensemble which shines best alongside each other. Many of the leading men in the show had distinctive performance peaks where even the most stoic of audience members were rooting for these cynical and flawed knights to soldier on. Michael Mulvenna set the standard first with his transformative and hilariously dazzling Sir Galahad in Act 1. By the amusing Act 2, James Denton, providing a theatrical and subversively masculine portrayal of Sir Lancelot, and Jordan Barnes, with his undeniably adorable, cowardly, and loveable Sir Robin, pushed up the calibre. Less of a leading man, but still a robber of hearts and laughs in the show worth commending, Luke Baweja was a fun, light-hearted damsel-in-distress-type playing Prince Herbert in Act 2.
The women of Spamalot were incredible, and Karagiannakis’s active choice to gender-swap characters and search for a good quality of performer was appreciated. Lady of the Lake Izzy Tilden was captivating in her talent, belting out musical numbers and demanding respect (and attention) with her natural stage presence and overt characterisation. The character of Patsy, made female in this show, was brought to life by Lucy Goodrick. She was the perfect mixture of funny and earnest, and genuinely one of the best theatre portrayals of a used-and-abused side-kick worthy of your love. Ensemble members Ruby Teys and Maddie Gerard also stood out, with Teys’ physicality working well choreographically and theatrically. While both showcased great range in abilities, Gerard’s comedic abilities were clear, and without these two ensemble members I doubt the show would have been half as funny as it was.
The show’s visual stand-outs included the vibrant costumes (designed by Ruby Teys and Gisella Candy) and the artistic sets designed by Antony Robinson which were central to the unique atmosphere of the show. The musical side of the performance was well-practiced and amusing, with choreography by Natalie Cox andGabrielle Rawlings, and Jeremy Kindl as the Music Director with a talented and endearing orchestra playing beside the performance.
Hitting you with a charming rendition of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ and a cheery outlook on self-depreciating theatre, Spamalot was a fun and enjoyable university production, adding to the standard of UTS Backstage and their potential for next year.