By SCOTT WEISSER firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — BRISTOL — There will be a quest, a deadly rabbit and Knights Who Say Ni. All this and music, too.
Welcome to “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” courtesy of the folks at Elkhart Civic Theatre.
The musical “Spamalot” of Broadway is based on the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” a Pythonesque take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The ECT three-weekend run opens Friday at The Bristol Opera House.
The show is being directed by Penny Meyers, who has high praise for the “Spamalot” players.
“It’s been a great cast,” she said. “They’re all working very hard ... We’re holding everyone up to a very high level of expectation, and they’re all stepping up to the plate.”
That cast includes Rick Nymeyer (Elkhart) as King Arthur and John Shoup (Elkhart) as Patsy. Adrienne Nesbitt (Goshen) plays The Lady of the Lake, Deron Bergstresser (Goshen) is cast as Galahad, Geoff Trowbridge (Elkhart) is Lancelot and Brent Graber (Elkhart) is Bedevere. Zach Rivers (Bristol) plays Herbert and Robert Windsor (Middlebury) is Robin. Tim Yoder handles the roles of the French Taunter, the Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter.
“Spamalot” also includes a band of knights portrayed by Dave Kempher, Lenette Votava, Joy Freude, Fred Hesser, Kylie Bruetman and Alex Schrock. The Laker Girls are played by Stephanie Yoder, Kristen Riggs, Kellie MacGowan, Kaitrin Higbee, Melissa Miller and Laura Heft.
Cast member Bergstresser, a pastor at Faith Mennonite Church, said “Spamalot” is his first time performing with Elkhart Civic Theatre.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s a really nice group of people — a real range of people who’ve been doing shows there for years and years and people like myself there for the first time. There’s a real spirit of helping people understand what’s going on and introducing folks to the theater and to the terminology and sort of the way things function nuts-and-bolts on the stage.”
The “Spamalot” cast has been tasked with no small amount of multi-tasking. Bergstresser, for example, portrays the Black Knight and the father of Prince Herbert in addition to Sir Galahad. He explained that his character starts out as Dennis, a mud-gatherer, and is transformed into the “dashingly handsome” Galahad.
“It’s a whole lot of fun,” he said.
Meyers said the show was auditioned in August, a couple of weeks earlier than normal to allow more time for costume work. She indicated that everyone in the cast besides Nymeyer as King Arthur has at least three costume changes, and some have as many as five.
That’s in keeping with the Python tradition. Meyers noted that in the Monty Python films, the actors also had multiple roles.
“It’s a fast-paced show, not much downtime for anybody,” she said of ECT’s “Spamalot.” “Even the chorus plays multiple characters in the show.”
In Meyers’ view, the “Spamalot” cast is ready for an audience.
“It’s a great show,” she said. “I hope a lot of people come to see it, because it’s fun, it’s vibrant, it’s a great escape.”
In addition to Meyers, the “Spamalot” production team consists of assistant director Annette Kaczanowski, with choreography by Jackie Jo Brewers, music direction by Mark Swendsen, vocal direction by Kim Dooley, costumes by Linda Wiesinger and accompanied by Miriam Houck. The orchestra includes Lonnie Waggoner and Justin Skinner on trumpet, Bob Stemm on trombone, Kathie Plank on flute, Ann Noble on guitar and banjo and Brenda Summers on keyboards.