Musical comedy promises laughs for audiences

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After the events of last week raised strong negative emotions in the hearts of many in the DePauw community, students, faculty, staff and community members may be in search of a laugh. Starting Thursday, they need look no further than the Green Center for the Performing Arts as the cast of the comedic musical "Spamalot" conquers the stage of Moore Theatre in their search for friendship and a grail.

"Spamalot" comes from the mind of the British comedy group known as Monty Python. Fans of this group’s critically-acclaimed 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" will be familiar with the plot of this musical. However, it also incorporates elements of other Monty Python creations, such as the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from their 1979 film "Monty Python’s Life of Brian".

The plot follows the valiant King Arthur (played by junior Derrick Truby) and his band of knights as they search for the Holy Grail, the cup which, legend says, was used at the Last Supper.

Along the way, they encounter a host of interesting characters, from the snobbish guards of the French castle who hurl insults (and more) at the group to the mysterious Lady of the Lake (played by junior Hannah Gauthier) who bestowed Arthur’s power upon him through the powerful sword Excalibur and aided in the transformation of a commoner named Dennis into the valiant Sir Galahad.

At several points in the musical, the characters (intentionally) commit a theatre faux pas by recognizing that they are in a play. The Lady of the Lake and Sir Galahad sing a song about singing, saying that “Once in every show/There comes a song like this,” and explains the construction of that signature type of song that every musical seems to feature. They also interact with the conductor of the pit orchestra, asking him to change the key or the tempo of the song.

The show is chock full of moments that aim to have the audience members rolling on the floor laughing.

“Each scene is chock full of musical jokes, corny references and hilarious puns,” said junior Dylan Prentice, who plays Pasty, King Arthur’s right-hand man. "Being able to perform a musical and have so much fun with all the wonderful cast and crew is definitely a joy and amazing to be a part of."

If you go to see this show, be sure to bring all of your pagers, cell phones and other electronic devices. There will be a special announcement immediately before the show that will direct you what to do with them.

Performers who take part in musical theatre are sometimes referred to as “triple threats,” meaning that they are talented at acting, singing and dancing. The cast of "Spamalot" are especial “threats” in this sense; one part of the show features tap dancing, an art that many of the cast members had to learn for this show.

The actors on stage are not the only students whose hard work has gone into this production. A crew of behind-the-scenes workers support director Andrew Hayes’s efforts during every rehearsal and performance. The sets and costumes were also hand made by DePauw students.

Hayes is feeling cautiously optimistic about how the musical’s progress toward opening night is going.

“Borrowing from writer Bertolt Brecht, I’d say this has been ‘chaos according to plan’,” Hayes said during rehearsal Sunday evening. “I’m happy to have ‘chaos according to plan’.”

The cast also feels like they are on the edge of where they need to be for Thursday night.

"I feel like the show is so close to being ready for opening night!” said Prentice. “We all have put in so much hard work and Andrew Hayes, our director, has helped us come so far, and just the finishing touches need to be put on for us to perform this weekend.”

"Spamalot" will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Moore Theatre in the GCPA. Following Thursday’s opening night performance, there will be a reception in the Great Hall. Tickets are $3 for students and $6 for adults and can be purchased ahead of time at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2246076 or the day of at the box office.