By Joan Doggrell
Newnan Theatre Company is proud to be staging the first amateur production in the state of Georgia of the musical comedy "Monty Python's Spamalot." The show contains all the best jokes and gags so fondly remembered from the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," plus song and dance numbers that satirize Broadway theater and Las Vegas entertainment.
"Monty Python's Spamalot" retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and features beautiful show girls, as well as cows, killer rabbits, and French taunters.
Be aware that the show contains content that some may find mature.
Mike Nichols directed the original 2005 Broadway production, which won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004-2005 season, and received 14 Tony Award nominations. The script is by Eric Idle, with music and lyrics by Mr. Idle and John Du Prez.
Cast members include a variety of both Newnan veterans as well as a host of newcomers. Long-time Newnan Theatre Company stalwart Dale Lyles is playing King Arthur, Rick Olsen is cast as Sir Bedevere, Chad Davis as Sir Robin, Brian Mitchell as Sir Lancelot, and William Pratesi is playing several different roles: the Historian, Not-Dead Fred, and Herbert. Newcomer-to-NTC Allison Lowery is the Lady of the Lake, and another newcomer, Reide Hale, fresh from acting school in Los Angeles, is playing four roles: Dennis (who becomes Sir Galahad), Herbert's father, and the Black Knight. Becky Clark is Musical Director, and NTC's Artistic Director Paul Conroy is the choreographer.
Director Jennifer Dorrell is an NTC Lifetime Award winner with some of NTC's finest and most successful shows to her credit. Her experience is paying off as she directs veteran actors and longtime Monty Python devotees. Rehearsals often dissolve into laughter as players recite the beloved Monty Python lines and practice the crazy sight gags. Overall, she and the cast are having great fun, and she fully expects that enjoyment to be communicated to the audience.
Dave Dorrell, Managing Director of NTC, portrays Patsy, the servant who walks along behind King Arthur banging coconuts together. (Monty Python fans will remember that coconuts provide the sound effect of galloping horses.) As always, he has production as well as performance responsibilities.
Because "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" has so many devoted fans, putting together accurate-looking costumes is one of NTC's biggest production challenges. Fortunately NTC has a large stock of costumes to draw on, as well as talented people such as Beth Lyons, who is making all the knights' tabards. There are a lot of sight gags in the show as well as trick costumes. For example, the Black Knight has his arms and legs chopped off. Luckily, Dorrell is resourceful at meeting such challenges.
Every one of the famous movie scenes turns into a musical number in "Monty Python's Spamalot." Camelot looks a lot like the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, where the Lady of the Lake sings "Song that Goes like This/Knights of the Round Table." But most of the musical numbers are satirizing a famous Broadway show. For example, Sir Galahad and the Lady of the Lake sing a takeoff from "Phantom of the Opera," complete with fog and a boat. Also, as a "Fiddler on the Roof" satire, there's a number where the dancers do the bottle dance with little Holy Grails on their heads. "The choreography for all those numbers is very complicated," said Dorrell. "It's going to look great, but it's not simple, by any means."
"The show is very funny. There are a lot of surprising little jokes throughout for people to look forward to," added Dorrell.
Allison Lowery lives in Newnan, where she works for a real estate company. She sings in bands and also owns her own jewelry company. She attended The Heritage School in Newnan and Lees McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, where she earned a degree in performing arts with an emphasis in voice and musical theater.
"I'm enjoying myself," said Lowery. "I really like everyone in the cast. Everybody seems to have a lot of experience. They're fun and they've got great attitude. I love my part, one of the best I've ever had. I'm on stage a lot, but I don't really speak until the very end of the second act. Everyone else has a ton of lines to learn. I watch them and think Good luck! It's much easier to memorize songs."