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Lots of spam on quest for the Holy Grail

King Arthur and the knights of his court are back for another round of fun, adventure, and laughter as Drayton Entertainment’s production of Spamalot hits the stage next week, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the movie that inspired it.

Victor A. Young returns in his role as King Arthur, with the knights of the round table in Drayton Entertainment’s production of Spamalot. [Banko Media]
Victor A. Young returns in his role as King Arthur, with the knights of the round table in Drayton Entertainment’s production of Spamalot. [Banko Media]
Adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the musical version has seen worldwide success since its 2005 opening, including three Tony Awards for its first Broadway production.

And this isn’t Drayton’s first kick at the can. Executive producer Steve Roth says when they did the show back in 2013 it was a no-brainer.

“Our artistic director Alex Mustakas just loved the script. It was so funny, the music was so accessible, but we didn’t know exactly how it’d go over,” Roth said. “We had full houses and people having so much fun, whether or not they knew Monty Python it didn’t matter. The musical is just so much fun. The music is so catchy. You can’t help but leave the theatre humming a few of the show tunes.”

With the show’s opening still a few days away, they’ve already got the community learning the music. Dan Payne, part of the marketing team for Drayton, popped into local businesses last week dressed as one of the knights from the production to spread some Spamalot merriment.

“It was just something we thought would be fun to introduce the community to Spamalot,” Roth said. “Dan Payne sang one of the popular songs from the show, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.’ They created a really fun video. I know the people Dan bumped into doing it had fun doing it.”

A testament to how much fun this show really is, many of the 2013 cast members are back, including Elmira’s Rachel Clark. She’ll be part of the ensemble, which includes a bevy of characters and 12 costume changes.

“Of course I said yes because it’s such a fun musical and it’s really fun to go to work and laugh a lot,” Clark said. “As an ensemble member since there isn’t a huge ensemble for females then you get to do a whole bunch of parts and be a lot of people. It’s always nice to be part of a lot of the show. I just loved it last time.  I couldn’t wait to do it again.”

Clark’s most recent Drayton appearances include Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Annie, 9-5 The Musical, and Hairspray. She says taking on so many roles for Spamalot means she has to do her background work on who she wants each character to be.

“I’m a Finland dancer that’s cheesy and cute and happy and then I go into this sexy Vegas unitard with a castle on my head. It’s such a variety, which is also very fun because you get to be a lot of people,” Clark said.

She adds one of the unique challenges of this show is how quickly they have to change roles. Often they have less than 90 seconds to get from one costume to the next.

“Most of our changes don’t happen in our dressing rooms, they happen in the wings of the show or in the back hallway,” Clark said. “We almost had to rehearse that as much as the dances because it’s almost like a routine in itself.”

And Drayton is keeping her busy for the rest of the year too. She’ll perform in Anne of Green Gables at the Huron County Playhouse in Grand Bend, then The Music Man at Drayton Festival Theatre, and Aladdin at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

“They put on amazing shows,” Clark said. “People from all over who have been on Broadway, been on Stratford, been on Mirvish, it’s filled with the same people as you’d see on a smaller scale but the same quality.”

She notes Spamalot is a good show to take someone who wouldn’t necessarily go to the theatre to see a musical.

“There’s a lot of fart jokes and silly things,” Clark said. “I feel like there’s something there for everyone. You can’t help but have a good time. We are still laughing as cast members on stage, off stage, in rehearsals we’d have to take a break because we’d just be having so much fun. You kind of have to pinch yourself, am I really getting paid to do this?”

Roth says because of the silliness of the musical it’s important to control it, something Mustakas is good at. When you start talking about giant killer rabbits, it’s easy to get carried away.

“He’s really good at making sure the comedy’s played straight,” Roth said. “I know they take a lot of care making sure the comedy is done the way it should be.”

As for Drayton’s season he says they’ve got a good mixture of everything, with lots of family programming  to introduce young people to quality theatre.

“It seems like we’re busier and busier and busier,” Roth said. “The days turn into weeks, turn into months, time goes so quickly. I think every once in a while you’ve got to stop and take a break.”

If people can come to Spamalot and feel like they’ve had two and a half hours of good old fashioned fun at the theatre, then they’ve achieved their goal.

“You’ll probably want to see it a second time, that’s how fun it is,” Roth said.

The Drayton Entertainment production of Spamalot runs May 6-24 the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge. Tickets are $34 ($25 for those under 20 years of age), available online at www.draytonentertainment.com, in person at the box office, or by calling (519) 621-8000 or toll free 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).

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