In my humble opinion

The play's the thing

Posted 7/14/23

As I sit at my desk, listening to the pitter-patter of rain against the windowpane, all I can say is “Make it stop!” For the love of all that is holy, enough already!

I enjoy a good …

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In my humble opinion

The play's the thing


As I sit at my desk, listening to the pitter-patter of rain against the windowpane, all I can say is “Make it stop!” For the love of all that is holy, enough already!

I enjoy a good thunderstorm, and I’m all for making sure we don’t have drought conditions here in the Upper Delaware River region, but for cryin’ out loud—enough! It’s mid-July and—oh, what’s the use? Am I complaining or just making conversation?

Make no doubt about it—I’m complaining.

That said, the foul weather has not stopped me from getting out. As usual, my summer calendar is chock-a-block with live theatre productions, and while I can’t catch them all, I managed to see more than one over the last few days. The first, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” is currently playing at the Forestburgh Playhouse, and is everything one expects Monty Python to be—lowbrow, irreverent and funny, funny, funny.

The musical, “lovingly ripped off” from the motion picture “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” as directed by Dana Iannuzzi and choreographed by Vincent Ortega, is sharp, fast-paced and overflowing with sight gags, groan-worth Pythonesque puns and more jokes than you can shake a schtick at.

Honestly (believe it or not) I couldn’t find fault with this glittering, colorful, sparkling production. The reason for my no-fault review rests squarely on the shoulders of Edward Staudenmayer (King Arthur) and his Knights—Danny Hayward (Sir Lancelot), Jacob Ben-Shmuel (Sir Robin) and Reese Britts (Sir Galahad). Rounding out the table (see what I did there?) were the highly entertaining Campy Rodriguez (keep an eye on this one!) and Marcel Joshua Johnson.

Additionally, Noah Lytle as Arthur’s aide de camp, Patsy, stood out amongst a really fine, incredibly well-tuned cast, and managed to add pathos to an intentionally clownish production filled with amusing fools, so kudos to him for pulling that off.

But wait—there’s more. The ensemble is terrific, Gisela Estrada’s ambitious scenic design is pretty darn cool, as are Joseph Fisher’s beautiful lighting and John Beltre’s detailed costuming. I feel like I’m forgetting something—oh right, the Lady of the Lake.

While Monty Python was famous for men playing women, the decision to use actual females in “Spamalot” is a wise one, not simply for the amazing ladies singing and dancing their hearts out in the chorus, but for the hilarious Victoria Mesa (Guinevere) who commanded the stage with her powerhouse vocals, insane range and plenty of ooh-la-la to boot. You go gurl. “Monty Python’s Spamalot” runs through Sunday, July 16. For tickets, go to Just go.

I left That Dog Named Gidget (follow her on the socials) at home for “Spamalot,” and while she was less than thrilled, she’s only 11 weeks old and not yet ready for sitting quietly during a show. I often have the same problem, but thankfully the audience was not expected to sit quietly during the Big Sky Productions presentation of Bill Duncan’s comedic “Four Plays about Q&As” so I was in good company.  

Director Carol Montana knows what she’s doing and was smart, not only with her thoughtful and amusing directorial choices, but also in casting Mary Burkart, Albee Bockman, Laure Valentine, Paul Ciliberto, Crystal Tweed and Michael Valentine in the quartet of Duncan’s one-acts. It was presented as a “staged reading,” and I always find such productions interesting, since the actors all have scripts in their hands, but also move about freely and interact with one another. It’s like being a fly on the wall and sitting in on a rehearsal, while giving the actors some freedom to glance at their lines if need be.

Each of the actors had moments to shine, including the guys, with some stand-out moments for the ladies—Burkart, Valentine and Tweed—who rose to the occasion during the best (IMHO) act, titled “Egyptian Mosaic.”

Playwright Duncan wittily explores wordplay and dialogue in “Four Plays,” and is mostly successful with the first three, but I did not care for Act Four. Under normal circumstances, I would elaborate, but the last time (2012) I expressed my humble opinion on a play penned by Duncan (“Holy, Holy, Holy”) he wrote a letter to the editor, calling my expertise into question, and getting downright personal, claiming I was “superficial, distracted by my dog, and lazy,” so I won’t. After all, the plays the thing, and speaks for itself.

Next up: “Something Rotten!” at the Ritz Playhouse in Hawley, PA. See you there.

Ask the Google: Q—“Who said, ‘The play’s the thing?’”

A—“In Act 2, Scene 2 of ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare, Hamlet said, ‘The play’s the thing/Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.’”

Spamalot, Forestburgh Playhouse, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Bill Duncan, Big Sky Productions, That Dog Named Gidget


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  • thebirdgirl

    Jonathan’s column is the best, in each and every issue of The RR!

    I’ve been reading them for many, many years. Can’t wait for stories that include That Dog Named Gidgit at his side!

    Melody Davis

    Sunday, July 16, 2023 Report this