Tag Archives: Adam Ellis

Spamalot, UK Tour (Theatre Royal, Brighton)

16 Dec

Spamalot, “a new musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail” by Eric Idle and John du Prez opened this Thursday at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. I love Monty Python and saw Spamalot several times in the West End, so I was looking forward to seeing finally seeing the touring production.

It’s hard to not compare it to the West End production. It took me a while to get used to the very bright and colourful sets and costumes that looked very panto-y. The cast is also a lot smaller with only four ensemble members and therefore some scenes have either been shortened (Run Away) or look a bit empty on stage (pretty much all ensemble scenes), though I don’t think it’s obvious if you’ve never seen another production.

Marcus Brigstocke as King Arthur is a genius casting decision. He really nails the part and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand in no time at all. Todd Carty as his faithful “horse” Patsy isn’t a great singer, but it didn’t really bother me with this part. Jodie Prenger as the Lady of the Lake has a surprisingly strong voice and her comic timing was spot on. Robin Armstrong gives a very strong performance as Sir Bedevere (who is now highly intelligent instead of flatulent), Dennis’ Mother, Concorde and other female roles including Susan Boyle. I really liked Jon Robyns as Sir Dennis Gallahad, but I thought his Black Knight and Prince Herbert’s Father were even better. Some of his funny lines fell a bit flat, but it was only his first performance. Graham MacDuff gave another amazing performance, he was hilarious in all of his parts, especially as the French Taunter, but of course also as Sir Lancelot, Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter. However, there were two people who stood out for me: Rob Delaney and Adam Ellis. Ellis’ Historian is very matter-of-fact, but also a bit camp, which makes his short scenes a joy to watch. His Prince Herbert is fabulous and his Not Dead Fred and Minstrel are hilarious. Delaney really is outstanding in all his roles, his Sir Robin is excellent. I’m not a fan of the new You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz, but he almost managed to make me like it (I have the cast recording, so I already knew it) and that says something. His comic timing is spot on, as are his facial expressions. Both have incredible stage presence and were great vocally. Tim Bonser, Rachel Knowles, Hannah Malekzad and Kit Orton play all the other minor parts and are wonderful, too!

Yes, this production is very downscaled, but it just goes to show that a great musical doesn’t need fancy sets etc. I enjoyed it very much, laughed a lot and I honestly think this cast is among the strongest I have seen.

Spamalot is on in Brighton until the 14th January 2012 and then embarks on its UK tour. Tour dates and ticket info can be found here.

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard Theatre

5 Oct

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown is a musical based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, with book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner. This production is directed by the renowned lyricist Anthony Drewe. It first opened at an off-Broadway theatre in 1967, so all I can say is that I am glad it has finally made it to the UK, where it is now  shown for the first time at the Tabard Theatre in London.

It features all the familiar Peanuts characters: Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Sally and of course Charlie Brown. The story is quite simple, a bit cheesy, very funny and, most of all, heart-warming. I just couldn’t help smiling through-out most of the musical, because it was a joy to watch such a charming little musical. It’s all about friendship and growing-up and what makes someone good.

Charlie Brown is played by Lewis Barnshaw (who I last saw as Cooking Stove on the very same stage!). He is wonderfully naive, endearing and awkward. You just can’t help liking him.

Mark Anderson plays Snoopy. His dry comments and monologues probably got the most laughs tonight, and not only because he accidentally broke off one of the wooden propeller blades of his “doghouse plane”. Suppertime was one of the highlights of the show for me.

Hayley Gallivan as Sally Brown is great, too. She has an incredible voice and is very funny. I especially liked her in My New Philosophy.

Leanne Jones is probably best known for playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray and now we get her as Lucy van Pelt. She was so funny in her “survey” scene, but she also has some nice, less crabby moments in the show. Great chemistry with Adam Ellis.

Adam Ellis plays Linus van Pelt, Lucy’s younger brother. I think the word that best sums his performance up is sweet, especially his lisp. And he’s incredibly funny too. My Blanket and I was amazing!

Nathaniel Morrison as Schroeder was very good as well. His expressions in some scenes (Schroeder for one, or Glee Club Rehearsal) were priceless and he has a great voice.

The set was simple, yet clever and I loved it! I really liked how the kite flying is done and the way they just transform the doghouse in a blackboard, aeroplane etc. Schroeder’s piano is wonderful too. The same can be said for the choreography, especially the ensemble numbers. They were a joy to watch, there even is a tap number!

My only (minor) quibble is, as so often, the sound. They don’t use microphones and I thought that (mostly) the drums were too loud and drowned out some of the singing. I found it especially difficult to hear Lewis Barnshaw and Mark Anderson, but it improved a bit towards the end. It is a real shame though, because they both give such excellent performances.

Musically, I wouldn’t exactly call it a masterpiece, but it fits the story and the characters perfectly, which is the only thing that matters to me. The songs are quite catchy though and I am sure I won’t get them out of my head for at least a couple of days. The only song I was familiar with beforehand is the last song, Happiness, which makes a quite moving conclusion. As much as I dislike the idea that everything must have a deep, meaningful and hidden message, I think this musical does with this song.

To sum up: entertaining, incredibly talented cast, nice story and songs, great choreography, what more could you possibly ask for?! It runs until the 30th October and you can book tickets online or call 0208 995 6035.

If happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you (to quote the last song), this production of You’re  A Good Man Charlie Brown IS happiness! It definitely made me happy.

Please note that I attended the second (and last) preview, so there still might be some changes!