Monday, 28 July 2014 14:28

Spamalot Just Wants to Have Fun

Written by  Allison Parker
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Monty Python’s Spamalot
Circle Theatre, Grand Rapids

Aug. 7-9, 13-17, 20-23; show times at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
$13.50-27
circletheatre.org, (616) 456-6656

 

I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England, you have laughed at a fart joke. Let’s get real: adolescent humor tickles the funny bone of even the snobbiest snob on occasion. A little part of everyone is always irrepressibly drawn to free, unabashed silliness—humor that hits its mark because it’s just plain goofy.

 

Nothing awakens the 12 year old within quite like Monty Python, and the Holy Grail spoof Monty Python’s Spamalot gets this. Indeed, for Director Tom Kaechele, much of Spamalot’s appeal comes from the signature humor of the musical’s source material.

 

“Monty Python had a way of using their particular brand of humor; it was just unique,” Kaechele said. “I can’t think of anything else that I have seen in the 30-some years since I’ve been exposed to them. Their style of humor is what makes it so special. You surprise yourself by laughing at something that is just so incredibly silly. It sort of taps into that little child that is still there that just wants to have fun.”

 

In homage to its iconic parent, Spamalot features most of the major plot points of Holy Grail, along with many of the film’s beloved characters and gags. The Knights still say “Ni,” and the French Taunter still “farts in your general direction.”

 

Spamalot also expands upon the film, however, by adding lively musical numbers and plenty of self-conscious Broadway jokes. Impressive dance numbers and Vegas showgirls add to the scope and spectacle.

 

These updates mean that while audiences switch off their brains, actors must face a daunting task. Cast members not only have to sing and dance, but also play multiple characters throughout the show. Some musical numbers even require actors to perform from backstage.

 

“It would be interesting to have a documentary of seeing this show from backstage because of all the different things that have to happen to put it all together,” Kaechele said.

 

“A lot of times, we’re even adding performers singing from offstage to get the full power of the show, and that’s a tough bit for the cast. ... You might be in the middle of a costume change, so while you’re doing the costume change, you’re singing.”

 

Luckily for Circle Theatre, Spamalot is in good hands. Cast members include Grand Rapids Got Talent winner Rob Reminga, and Jeremiah Postma, who recently played Val Jean in Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s Les Mis. Audiences can also put their hands together for Noddea Skidmore, a Grand Rapids stage veteran who serves as the event producer for ArtPrize.

 

“I’ve got a great, hardworking cast and my choreographer and my music director are both sensational," Kaechele said. "It’s nice when you can go to work and enjoy your job even before you get there."

 

Other Performing Arts Events

Beehive
Mason Street Warehouse, Saugatuck

Aug. 15-17, 19-20, 21-29, 30-31; show times at 2, 7 & 8 p.m.
$26-$42
sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399

A tribute to the decade of mini skirts and hairspray, Beehive features 37 divalicious ‘60s hits. Tina Turner, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin are just a few of the female powerhouses celebrated in this high-energy journey back in time. Nostalgic songs and 50 outrageous costumes chronicle the trends and social impact of one of America’s most memorable decades.

 

The Matchmaker
Hope Summer Repertory Theatre

DeWitt Theatre, Holland
Aug. 1, 5, 8; show time at 8 p.m.
$12-$21
hope.edu/arts/hsrt, (616) 395-7890

Thornton Wilder’s classic old-school farce The Matchmaker is perhaps most familiar to modern audiences as the inspiration for Hello, Dolly! As its title implies, The Matchmaker centers around a woman’s elaborate schemes to set up singles. Things take an especially humorous turn, however, when the matchmaker falls for the very man who hires her to help him find a wife.

 

[title of a show]
Farmers Alley Theatre, Kalamazoo

Aug. 1-3, show times at 2 & 8 p.m.
$31-$33
farmersalleytheatre.com, (269) 343-2727

As cheeky and self-referential as a show can get, [title of a show] celebrates the joys and woes of playwriting and collaboration. The plot follows the struggles of two writers as they try to hastily assemble a last-minute entry for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. After wrestling with writer’s block, the team decides to write a musical about writing a musical. They also decide the title of their entry will be [title of a show], a decision inspired by the wording on the festival’s application form.

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