Cows. Killer rabbits. Random absurdity — and a whole lot of laughs.
Spring Lake Park High School’s spring musical “Spamalot” delivers them all in its roaring version of the famed Monty Python adaptation, premiering April 23.
“With all of the bleakness of the past year, we felt it was vital that the musical be a comedy,” said Kevin Dutcher, Spring Lake Park’s director of theater arts. “I had in mind a staging that I thought would work well with COVID restrictions, so we needed a show that would work within that framework.”
Once the decision was made to look for a comedic production, next came the process of looking for one that enabled distancing among actors and audience. “Spamalot” offered both.
“Our production team came up with a list of titles and once ‘Spamalot’ was mentioned, it jumped out as one that would work beautifully within our parameters,” Dutcher said. “To work within the COVID guidelines, the show has been designed as essentially a radio play with dancing. The actors stand at the microphones and address straight out to the audience, while the other actors react as if they’re speaking to them. It’s a style in which I’ve worked quite a bit, and it works very well.”
A limited audience will be able to take in the play in-person, with five different showtimes available.
“Audiences love it because they don’t miss a beat,” Dutcher said. “Every nuance and bit of facial expression is presented directly to them. All mics are placed a minimum of 12 feet from the audience, and when the performer is at the microphone, they slip their mask down so that they can be seen. Once they step away the masks are back on, and all of the dance numbers are fully masked.”
After a long wait for students to return to theater, the selection presents the perfect opportunity to jump right back in and encourages over-the-top, ham it up fun.
“From the start I told the actors to ‘wear their silly boots,’” Dutcher said. “For a lot of them it was their first exposure to the mix of wordplay and rampant absurdity that is Monty Python. They were assigned many classic comedy sketches to watch, and I threw in some Laurel and Hardy for good measure (I borrowed their ‘Way Out West’ dance for one of the songs). The cast has fully embraced the wackiness — it’s a great outlet for them after such a tough year.
“We all can use a good laugh, and this show is really funny. Theater can be a wonderful escape and a tonic for dark times, and this show fits that bill to a ‘T.’ Or rather a ‘P’ — for Python!”
Show times are Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, April 24, at 2 p.m.; Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 1, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, May 2, at 2 p.m.
Due to COVID-19 Health & Safety Restrictions, the theater house has limited seating for all performances. Tickets will be available at will call at the performance — the box office team will assign seats. Visit www.springlakeparkschoolstickets.com for more ticket information.