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Actors hamalot in 'Spamalot'

Chris Klekamp, Dave Kieffer of Woodbury and Dylan Degler of Cottage Grove (from left) appear in the Woodbury Community Theatre production of “Spamalot.” It runs March 17-26 at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. (Submitted photo)

Woodbury

Break out the coconuts. "Spamalot" rides into the Merrill Community Arts Center this weekend.

The musical, based the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," won accolades upon its Broadway debut. Lyricist and Python alum Eric Idle brazenly recycled scenes from the film and set them to music with the help of composer John Du Prez.

Songs include "The Song That Goes Like This," and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Woodbury Community Theatre tackles the seriously silly and slightly bawdy retelling of King Arthur, played by Scott Stoneking, and his efforts to find the grail. Along the way, he meets the Lady of the Lake, gets lectured about socialism by a peasant, and crosses swords with the Black Knight, who refuses to admit defeat even when he's had both arms and legs hacked off.

Various cast members play one of the Knights of the Round Table as well as multiple supporting roles.

Bruce Bell-Myers, who plays Dennis Galahad, said their own quest is to make the audience laugh and cry.

"We want them to laugh at things in the show and cry about their own desperate situations," he said.

It's safe to assume that this is the first time that director Marcie Berglund of Cottage Grove ever had to give direction to a cart full of corpses. They're featured in a scene where the Dead Gatherer, a sort of medieval municipal street cleaner, disposes of victims of the black death. Are they really dead? Hint: The name of one corpse character is Not Dead Fred.

"I've got such a good cast of men," Berglund said. "It's very fun. It's just been a great experience. I just feel like it's going to be a big hit. The choreography is amazing. My actors are fantastic."

Jeff Yates of Stillwater, who plays Sir Lancelot, said that Berglund gives them a lot of leeway to go over the top in their interpretation of their various roles.

"Marcie is pretty much, 'You can go as far as you can and then I'll bring you back," Yates said.

"Which is really fun," said Justin Madsen, who plays Sir Robin.

"Spamalot" has been on the wish list of Michelle Witte for some time. The executive director of

Merrill Community Arts Center, Witte said she wasn't a big "Monty Python" fan, unlike her husband and his three brothers.

But she changed her tune when she saw the original in New York City.

"I laughed so hard I felt like I missed pieces of it, so we went back the next day," Witte said. "The broadway take on it is really for everybody. It's fabulous. It really is hilarious.

"I hope it will attract a different audience. I have heard people say, 'I'm not Monty Python fan,' or, 'That's not my type of humor.'"

But it's not required to know what 'Ni' means or to be able to calculate the airspeed of an unladen African swallow to enjoy the show.

If you go:

"Spamalot" runs at 7:30 p.m. March 17, 18, 24 and 25 and 3 p.m. March 19 and 26. All performances are on the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School, 4200 Pioneer Drive in Woodbury. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $15 for students and free for active military families. Group pricing of 20 percent off is available for 12 or more tickets purchased for the same performance. More info and tickets can be purchased at www.merrillartscenter.org or by calling 612-399-6568.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

(651) 459-3435
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