By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

A summer without a Ye Olde Opera House production at the Ye Olde Gray Barn calls for an epic quest for a holy grail, in 90 minutes. 

Ye Olde Opera House (YOOH) in Spring Grove invites audiences back for its 2021 production of “Spamalot! (Concert-ish Version),” running July 15-18, starting at 8:30 p.m. Call 507-498-5859 for tickets. Reserved seats are $16, while Bring Your Own Lawn Chair general admission is $12. Doors open at 7:45 p.m. There will not be food on the green this year, nor an intermission. 

Join King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they search for the holy grail, and run into some hilarious setbacks, such as cows, killer rabbits and French people, not to mention several different knights. 

Director Kay Cross said the production is a little different than the full two and a half hour version. This production by Eric Idle is “lovingly ripped off” the classic film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

“He’s taken the primary sketches and sewn them together,” she explained. “Eric Idle edited and came up with it. He trimmed down the dances, dialogues and left in the big recognizable stuff.”

Many favorite scenes are still in the production, and for those who haven’t experienced Monty Python, it’s still a well-rounded production bound to become a favorite. 

Furthermore, the production by Idle was crafted during the Covid-19 pandemic, so there are references to social distancing and even stage directions to accommodate restrictions. Since the restrictions are now lifted, audience members will be seated as normal. 

“We kind of toyed with restrictions, we could do a two and a half hour show, but we were really excited about coming back with a well-crafted show, having fun, good music and the best thing you love about Monty Python,” Cross said. 

 The show is age appropriate for everyone. There may be a few references kids do not understand, but they’ll laugh along with the cast and audience, she added.

This being the first production after Covid restrictions have been lifted, cast and crew are looking forward to returning to the barn. It’s also the third time YOOH has wanted to produce “Spamalot!”

The production was originally planned for 2019, but due to a touring company producing the play in the area, YOOH was not allowed to produce it. So they chose “Godspell” instead. 

Then they had it planned for 2020, but with a summer of restrictions and mask-wearing, the season was not conducive to a large production. Finally in 2021, the quest is on. It was also no issue to keep the ability to produce the play for another year. Cross said many companies were forgiving and understanding, so YOOH had one year from the date they booked “Spamalot!” to produce it. 

“Being out here at the barn is magical. It’s been far too long since we got to be out here,” Cross said. “We’ve got all the hard-hitters. The cast is phenomenal.” 

It’s a fun mix of people who have been around YOOH for a long time, but not to mention newcomers to the stage, such as Johnny Sanasinh, who plays the role of “Patsy.” 

“He’s fabulous and such a cool human being. He’s such a great addition personally and talent-wise,” Cross said. Other familiar faces on stage are David and Rachel Storlie, Mark and Sarah Schroeder, Bill Fried, Jen Solberg, and many others. 

Along with the cast, the set is a fun new perspective at the barn. While audiences are typically used to seeing a large set with many scenes and moving pieces, this year’s production is a little more modern. 

Following a black box theatre concept, the set gives glimpses of scenes from the play and lets the actors fill the space, Cross described. Viewers will be able to see to the back of the barn and see actors on different levels. 

“We have beautiful pieces that Kaley (Cross) painted that give us glimpes of scenes in the story, such as the Lady of the Lake, the two swallows ... a stone wall with flowers for the castle,” Cross said. “It’s celebrating the whimsy, giving us little pieces of the set. It’s fun. It’s not going to be what people are used to seeing when they come.”

Kaley Cross is the daughter of Kay Cross and holds a degree from the Art Institute in Chicago. 

Will King Arthur and his knights find the holy grail? Come to the Ye Olde Gray Barn July 15-18 and find out. 

Cast list

David Storlie: King Arthur

Mark Schroeder: Sir Robin, French Taunter, Tim the Enchanter, Guard, Finish Villager

Adam Arends: Sir Lancelot, Guard

Bill Fried: Dennis Galahad, Herbert’s Father, The Black Night

Johnny Sanasinh: Patsy, Mayor

Harvey Goetting: Sir Bedevere, Dennis Galahad’s Mother, Finish Villager, Monk, Bors

Rachel Storlie: The Lady of the Lake, Voice of God

Sarah Schroeder: Historian

Jen Solberg: Minstrel,  Finnish Villager, Laker Girl, Puppeteer

Greta Goetting: Not Dead Fred, Monk, Finnish Villager, Laker Girl

Kim Kapplinger: Prince Herbert, Sir Not Appearing

Carol Sweeney-Marnach: Finnish Villager, Laker Girl, Monk

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