Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Monty Python’s Spamalot at Triad Theater

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Nov. 23, 2016
the “not dead yet” scene, taken from the Standing Room Only Facebook page with permission.
I must confess that I did not have high hopes when I went to The Triad Theater in Yelm to see Standing Room Only’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, since my previous experience with small town community theater has never been as disastrous as Waiting for Guffman, it had generally not been on a par with Tacoma and Olympia theaters. But the Standing Room Only players surprised me; they put on a first-class show.
Visiting The Triad Theater is quite an experience. For starters, I tried to enter via the backstage entrance and was told to go to what they called the front of the building, a barely lighted doorway on a side street. Inside was joyful bedlam. They were serving drinks and snacks. The auditorium was almost full half an hour before show time. The stadium-style seating was interspersed with comfortable looking old couches. Onstage some kind of game of chance was going on involving a catapult, and someone was circulating through the audience handing out snacks, which I took to be Spam and cheese on crackers. It was loud. I got the impression everyone knew each other.
The set looked inexpensive and shabby, which is perfectly Pythonesque. The costumes by Renee Cottriel were excellent. Some of the outlandish costumes such as those of the Knights Who Say Ni, were hilarious, and many of the women’s costumes, especially those worn by The Lady of the Lake (Earl Dawn) and the women in the ensemble were lovely.
For those not in the know, Spamalot, written by Monty Python’s Eric Idle, is loosely based the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or as the program declares, “lovingly ripped off” from the film, with a few comic bits and the song “Look on the Bright Side of Life” taken from Python’s Life of Brian.
The show is excellently directed by Daniel Wyman and choreographed by Fred Loertscher with additional choreography by Marcela Martinez and Deanna Waldo, both of whom also perform in the ensemble cast.
There is only one cast member I recognized, Richard Frias, who has a cameo as God, and who has extensive stage experience in the South Sound area. The rest, as well as I can tell from reading the program biographies have experience on in Standing Room Only show and school productions, which means this cast is the epitome of amateur theater — but I surely couldn’t tell it from watching them. Every one of them from King Arthur (Dave Champagne) to unnamed members of the ensemble threw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles and showed professional quality acting chops. Kudos to one and all. Especially outstanding for their expressiveness and physical comedy are Will Champagne as Patsy, the coconut-clapping sidekick, and Kevin McManus as Sir Robin.
From the monster rabbit to the man who’s not dead yet to Sir Lancelot’s gay wedding, this musical farce is filled with all the craziness that made the movie and the Broadway show the hits they were, plus there are a few local bits thrown in like the “Don’t P*ss Off the Stage Manger” skit and bringing up a member of the audience (who might or might not be a plant) for a selfie with the cast.
Driving to Yelm is not a difficult commute from either Tacoma or Olympia, and I guarantee you this show is worth the drive.

Spamalot, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m., Sunday through Nov. 27, $xx, The Triad Theater, 102 Yelm Ave E, Yelm.

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