Monty Python’s SPAMalot


Rehearsal a week before opening night. Oren Levin (center left) portrays King Arthur holding Excalibur. Milo Tucker-Meyer (center right) portrays Patsy, servant/steed of King Arthur. Sophia Werthmann (far left) and Isaac Scobey-Thal (second from the left) portray Dennis’ widowed mother and Dennis Galahad respectively.

One Week Before Opening Night

Diction, energy and staying in character were the three things running through the minds of the actors and actresses of Community’s Ensemble Theatre (CET) one week before opening night on March 19, 2015. “Nothing less than your best,” said Quinn Strassel, CET’s director and Community High School’s acting teacher. This year, CET’s spring production is “Monty Python’s Spamalot”, a Tony Award-winning musical comedy adaptation from Terry Gilliman and Terry Jones’ “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.

SPAMalot: Set in medieval England, King Arthur is on a quest looking for men to join the Knights of the Round Table to follow him to Camelot. After a few interesting encounters and musical numbers performed by each character, King Arthur officially collected Sir Lancelot, the Homicidally Brave; Sir Robin, the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot; Sir Dennis Galahad; and Sir Bedevere, The Strangely Flatulent. Once collected in a Las Vegas-inspired Camelot, God appears to King Arthur, urging him to find the Holy Grail. They encounter the French, the Knights who say Ni, the Black Knight, Herbert and Tim the Enchanter, each with their own scene, musical number and witty comedy. This play, was light comedy and had the biggest costume order, with 250 different costumes for a cast of 44, to date. Strassel and the rest of the cast and crew show that hard work and dedication proves that you should always look on the bright side of life.

Among the cast members were Oren Levin, a CHS senior who captured the part of King Arthur; Fiona Lynch, a CHS freshman with a voice fitting the role of The Lady of the Lake; Isaac Scobey-Thal, CET’s president and Sir Dennis Galahad; Jacob Johnson, a CHS senior and Sir Robin, the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot; James Harkey, a CHS senior and Sir Bedevere, The Strangely Flatulent; Josh Krivan, a Skyline senior and Sir Lancelot the Homicidally Brave; and Milo Tucker-Meyer, a CHS junior and Patsy, King Arthur’s trusty servant and steed.

With only one week until opening and after snow days hindering rehearsals, time was of the essence and Strassel, although worried, trusted the cast and crew to come together in the last week. “I am always a mess at this time. So a week and half before the show I’m always a mess, always worried and I’m going home with thousands of notes,” Strassel said. “I’ve also learned to trust the process with the idea that I’ll give notes after this rehearsal they’ll go home and practice those things.” Year after year, Strassel said he is always impressed with how much growth the cast makes in that last week.

For Strassel, Spamalot has been a musical that he has wanted to do and since he had a large number of strong male actors who can sing, this year seemed to be the year. This is his fifth year with CET, so the seniors have been with him since the very beginning. Strassel could not be more proud of how hard they’ve worked during the past years. “I’m just really proud of the kids, especially our seniors have just risen to the challenge year after year and I’m looking for the audience just experiencing a huge show with a lot of polished performances,” Strassel said. “I think we’ve always had good performances, but this year the full cast, the skills have been building over the years and this year I think is going to be a big polished show with a lot of great performances.”

This year, Strassel not only offered the traditional five shows from Thursday, March 19 to Sunday, March 22, but because all of the shows were sold out, tickets were also sold to their last dress rehearsal on March 18 at a discounted price.

Final Dress Rehearsal

During the final dress rehearsal, students and parents waited as the clock approached 6:30 p.m., inching their way towards the still closed theater doors. As Strassel opened the doors, the speeding group retrieved their unassigned seats. After a quick monologue given by Strassel about the excitement and the hard work the CET cast and crew put into the play, the lights dimmed and the play started. The long intro music and the humorous mood were set.

Sticking to the original British play, the actors spoke with British accents. “The whole cast had to do different accents and everyone has to use it. It all sounds different for everyone. I haven’t quite nailed down each person’s accent but it’s funny,” said Jack Kozicz, a CHS senior in the CET ensemble and the Black Knight. “It’s Monty Python so it’s kind of a ridiculous British accent to begin with, and making a bunch of high school kids in the US to do some ridiculous British accents is funny.”

One surprising scene featured three CHS teachers, Robbie Stapleton, Tracy Anderson and Liz Stern, Individualized Learning Center (ILC) teacher consultant Pam Kirchen and the counseling office secretary Gretchen Eby lined, chanting and dancing on stage in matching green and white cheerleading outfits.

As the first act came to an end, the empty and silent hallways filled up with the buzzing of the audience. While the audience was out in the hall, the actors stayed in the theater to polish up the second act. Once again at 8 p.m. the closed doors re-opened and the buzzing of the hallway diminished into the theater and simmered into silence as the actors came out.

Once the second act started, yet again the wittiness and humorous voices filled the room. One scene that amused the audience was when Ben Wier, CHS senior playing in the ensemble and as Herbert, acted out his role as the damsel in distress part with his high pitched singing, a blond wig and a cone-shaped headset called a hennin. Bursts of laughter from the audience were frequent and contagious. The play concluded with the cast picking out an audience member and pulling him on stage and naming him the next Arthur and rewarding him with a mini version of the holy grail. After some impressive improv from the Knights of the Round Table, the audience member, Danny Freiband, was re-seated and the play came to a close with a few more scenes and a reprised song of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Opening night was Thursday March 19, 2015.

Final Dress Rehearsal photos taken by Margie Morris.