Killer rabbits, flying cows and taunting Frenchmen are some of the kooky elements in Sinclair Community College’s presentation of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s 2005 Tony Award-winning Best Musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” beginning Friday.
Lovingly ripped off from the 1975 cult comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the absurdist “Spamalot” concerns the adventures of King Arthur and his loyal Knights of the Round Table in faithful pursuit of the Holy Grail. Along the way, the Lady of the Lake, a diva specifically created for the musical, becomes a humorous source of encouragement for Arthur and his gang with a delectable Broadway and pop culture sensibility.
“With ‘Spamalot,’ it’s all about comedic timing,” said guest director Gina Kleesattel, who previously staged the University of Dayton productions of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Urinetown: The Musical.” “Our rehearsals have been hilarious. Monty Python comedy is very vigorous, but there is a real humanity in it, especially in terms of just how frustrating life can be. All Arthur is trying to do is get some guys together and search for the Holy Grail, but the stupidity of people around him thwarts him every time.”
Kleesattel, an admirer of the popular “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” sketch comedy TV show of the 1970s, says she purposefully reminded her 19-member cast, which includes UD students, to freshly inhabit their roles. Imitation may have been expected, but it wasn’t something she wanted them to embrace for the sake of a laugh.
“I spoke to the cast a lot about not imitating the movie or the Monty Python cast,” she said. “We are not them. I didn’t want the cast to play to the joke. I wanted them to find the humanity in the comedy because that’s what makes comedy funny. It’s just human nature, and sometimes, humans are stupidly funny.”
“I am continually amazed at every rehearsal (because) everyone in the cast is so gifted,” added Dr. Patrick Greco, a Sinclair chemistry professor who portrays Sir Bevedere, Sir Lancelot’s horse Concorde and Sir Dennis Galahad’s mother. “I like my role of Mrs. Galahad the most. She has a really shrill peasant quality and is a bit of a nut, but she truly loves her son Dennis and does not want to see him join King Arthur’s Knights and leave her at home to manage the mud pile. Though it sounds crazy, I think being involved in this production helps my teaching. I think as a novice to the acting and theater world I can relate to my students who have never had a chemistry class before or may be a bit intimidated by science.”
Greco, who appeared in Sinclair’s productions of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Something’s Afoot,” fondly recalls being introduced to the world of Monty Python as a teenager when his brother took him to see “Holy Grail” at the Neon Movies downtown. He particularly hopes fellow Python devotees will support the show.
Growing up Catholic and involved in education most of my life, I appreciated (Monty Python’s) take on religion, politics and philosophy,” he said. “I think this production will bring out all the Monty Python fans who do not normally attend all the great arts events we have to offer in Dayton.”
The principal cast includes Skyler McNeeley, Natalie Sanders, CJ Suchtya, Stephen Kallenberg, Chris Delanis, Michael Dean Conley, Bryan Bryk, John Dunn and Brennan Paulin. Daniel Greene serves as musical director. Rodney Veal provides choreography.
The tuneful score includes “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” “The Song That Goes Like This” and “I Am Not Dead Yet.”
How to Go
What: “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Where: Sinclair Community College, Blair Hall Theatre, Building 2, 444 W. Third St., Dayton
When: Oct. 4-12; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.; Thursday at 7 p.m.
Cost: $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and students. All Thursday tickets (Downtown Dayton Thursday Night) cost an additional $5 each and include pre-show appetizers and cash bar beginning at 6 p.m. in the Blair Hall Theatre lobby.
Tickets/more info: Call (937) 512-2808 or visit www.sinclair.edu/tickets