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‘Spamalot’ opening night less than two weeks away

  • King Arthur, played by Larry Michehl, considers the instructions of the chorus members, played by Michael Peterson, Griffin Franksain, and Sincere Collins, to “always look on the bright side of life,” during a recent rehearsal of “Spamalot” at the North Grand Auditorium. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Lady of the Lake, played by Jessica Schwickerath, wonders what happened to her part during a recent rehearsal of “Spamalot” at the North Grand Auditorium. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • King Arthur, played by Larry Michehl, gallops across the stage without a horse during a recent rehearsal of “Spamalot” at the North Grand Auditorium. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Sir Lancelot, played by Steve Hanson, apologizes to the father of the groom, played by Mike Lembke, for attacking an unarmed wedding party during a recent rehearsal of “Spamalot” at the North Grand Auditorium. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Members of the cast perform a dance number with Brave Sir Robin, played by Luke Royer, during a recent rehearsal of “Spamalot” at the North Grand Auditorium. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • King Arthur, played by Larry Michehl, gets some advice from Brave Sir Robin, played by Luke Royer, during a recent rehearsal of “Spamalot” at the North Grand Auditorium. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

The most important prop for the upcoming production of “Spamalot” just might be a notebook that belongs to Linda Hughes.

“If I lose it, we’re all in trouble,” Hughes said.

Hughes is the costume designer for the upcoming production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” to be presented by Charles City’s own Stony Point Players. Production dates will be June 27-30 at the North Grand Auditorium. Tickets are available online now at www.showtix4u.com.

Hughes said that the production has more than 110 costume changes — so many that she’s “lost count” — and each of the 37 local actors in the cast has his or her own page in the notebook, outlining the costume requirements of each.

“On every page is all of their costumes,” Hughes said. “It tells us what we’ve given them, what needs to be found or fixed or whatever.”

Hughes has spent most of her free time the last couple of months scrounging for costumes. Now, she’s doing a lot of sewing.

“I’ve visited all of these places — Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Treasure Chest-type stores in this area looking for certain items,” she said. “I’m confident we’re going to get it done, but I’m going to work all day Friday sewing.”

Hughes said the Stony Point Players have rented about a third of the costumes.

“That has helped a lot, but a lot of them don’t fit, so we’ve had to modify them,” she said.

Hughes still has a lot of work to do between now and opening night — less than two weeks away. Many in the cast are helping with special costume items that can’t find anywhere, and many of them are also playing multiple roles in the play — including Hughes, who on top of her costume mistress duties is also in the chorus and is one of the fearsome “Knights of Ni.”

“The main characters are just playing one role, but almost every peripheral character is playing at least three roles,” Hughes said. “I think it’s coming. I think we’re going to get it done.”

“Spamalot,” a musical comedy, is adapted from the Monty Python comedy troupe’s 1975 film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Like the motion picture, the stage version is a highly irreverent parody of the legend of King Arthur. The original Broadway production in 2005 received 14 Tony Award nominations and won in three categories, including best musical.

Director Janeice Bergland has said the show features ambitious and intricate song and dance numbers and “funny, funny dialogue” full of dark humor, slapstick comedy and British colloquialisms. Bergland is also the production’s set designer.

“I personally spent all day Thursday painting trees,” she said, but added that the production seems to be coming together. “Last night I slept all night for the first time. It’s going great. We’ve got really strong leads.”

Larry Michehl is in the lead role of King Arthur, while the female lead of the Lady of the Lake will be played by Jessica Schwickerath. Other main roles will be Josh Vaske-Huff as Patsy, Luke Royer as Sir Robin, Steve Hanson as Sir Lancelot, Tanner Striegel as Sir Galahad, Griffin Franksain as Sir Bedevere, Michael Peterson as Not Dead Fred, Erik Gordon as the Historian and the French Taunter, and Mike Lembke as Tim the Enchanter.

“The voices are fabulous,” Bergland said. “The big numbers are going really well, and I think people are going to just love it.”

Musical director Derek Sturtevant has assembled a 10-piece orchestra for the production, made up of “some former music teachers, some professional players, and some former students who are alumni.”

The pit musicians are pianist Chris Cleveland, Jake Gassman on trombone, Emily Schuldt on French horn, Lyle Western and Karissa Jensen on trumpet, Scott Stroud on sax, Haydn Pleggenkuhl and Nicole Loftus on drums and percussion. Also, Isaak Jensen on guitar, Darian Cleveland on bass and guest pianist Harrison Sheckler.

Sturtevant said the music is intricate. Although “Spamalot” is a farcical comic parody of Broadway musicals, Sturtevant said that in order to pull off a parody, the music must be as complex as the music that’s being lampooned.

“This is very serious music. We have a good solid pit to pull it off, and I’m excited about it,” he said. “We were scared three weeks out, but now we’re feeling better two weeks out. It’s getting better as we get closer.”

Sturtevant said that despite all the obstacles that come with putting together a large musical production at a small-town community theater, it’s the local people involved who make it a great show.

“We’re working with great, responsible and wonderful people,” he said.

So it seems that as long as Hughes doesn’t lose her notebook, “Spamalot” is going to be another stellar production by the Stony Point Players.

“It’s going to be awesome. It’s really going to be amazing,” Hughes said. “It’s very fast-moving, very colorful, lots of singing and lots of dancing. If you want a good, entertaining show, this is it.”

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