Showing posts with label Monty Python. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monty Python. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Enjoy a Raucous Romp with Killer Rabbits, Knights Who Say "Ni" and Coconuts...It's SPAMALOT!

By Guest Blogger Carol Van Zoeren
Carol is a 40+ veteran of community theater and a retired chemist and retired from being a middle manager at DuPont.

Delaware All-State Theater (DAST) has done it again, with a raucous and hysterical romp through Monty Python with Spamalot, now playing at Tatnall’s gorgeous Laird Theater. Like All-State Choir, All-State Band, etc, DAST draws on the best talent from any and all area high schools. And boy, does it show! 

Every young person on stage – whether lead, featured role or ensemble – is more than up to the task of this challenging show. This is most notable with King Arthur (Jameson May), his squire Patsy (Will Rotsch) and his merry band of knights (Keelin Reilly, Duncan Smith, Julian Manjerico and Benjamin von Duyke). It would be difficult for any single high school or community theater to pull together such a group of guys like these six. Each is a “triple threat.” 

I expected good singing and acting. Their dancing was a delightful revelation. When I noticed they were wearing tap shoes my heart fluttered, and when they broke out in a time step, I nearly embarrassed myself. The show has only one female lead, the Lady of the Lake. Seeing Lyndie Moe’s performance, I’m not surprised she won the role. Vocal chops, check. The trick is to diva it up without becoming annoying. Well done, m’lady!

Spamalot also has some terrific featured roles, including Fred (Christopher Cooke), Minstrel (Jacob Tracey), Herbert (James Christopher). Every featured performer shone in his (yes, they’re all male roles) moment in the spotlight. And contributed to the fabulous ensemble.

Choreography by Shauna Goodman was exciting and well executed. Costumes by Tim Cannon were perfect – OMG “Come out, French People!” was hysterical. The live orchestra under Clint Williams’ direction and with many student players was spot, spot on. Cute cell phone bit, too.

But overall, I have to commend Jeff Santoro for guiding his young actors well. Spamalot demands that the actors go to the edge, but not past it. It’s a knife edge. At one extreme, young performers often shy away from the comedy and pull their punches. I didn’t expect that to be an issue with these seasoned actors, and it wasn’t. On the other hand, there’s a risk of taking the comedy past the point where it serves the story and tries to serve actor instead (for example, by punching a joke too hard) which breaks the connection with the audience.

I half expected that – but for the most part every character served the story and not themselves. If it were a drama, I would call this nuanced performance. But, with Spamalot, uh, “nuance” is not a word that springs to mind. Rather, I would say…craft. Well done!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Bootless Brings Monty Python's "Not the Messiah" Oratorio to Town for a Praise-worthy Fundraiser

Some companies put on The Messiah for Christmas. Bootless Stageworks, always marching to its own drummer, is putting on Not the Messiah (He’s A Very Naughty Boy), an Oratorio by Eric Idle and John DuPrez, based on Monty Python's Life of Brian, in late January. We had the opportunity to sit in on an early rehearsal for the show, conducted by Bootless Music Director James W. Fuerst and featuring two dozen singers from Bootless, NewArk Chorale and other area theater companies as well as 20 orchestra musicians from Bootless, Wilmington Community Orchestra, Newark Symphony, Diamond State Concert Band, First State Symphonic, Chesapeake Brass Band and University of Delaware Orchestra. Everyone involved in this fundraising production is doing it on a volunteer basis, and the enthusiasm for the piece shows through. You may remember soloists Geoff Bruen, Kimberly Christie, Cynthia Ballentine, and Michael Popovsky from Bootless' 2012 production of Jerry Springer: The Opera (among other area Opera Productions), and Justin Walsh from the always-popular Evil Dead: The Musical. That so many talented folks have come out to donate their time is a testament to both the appeal of Not the Messiah and the small theater company that has not been without its struggles in the past couple of years.

About a year ago, it looked like Bootless, a nomadic "pop up" theater company, had found a permanent home in Newport, Delaware. The location had one major problem: it lacked a parking lot, and the company couldn't get the go-ahead to build one. Homeless again, Bootless struck a deal with OperaDelaware to utilize its Black Box theater, but scheduling conflicts with that space's longtime resident, City Theater Company, have prevented it from becoming its permanent home (though Bootless' next show, Venus in Furs, will be performed there in March).

For Not the Messiah, the company is utilizing one of Wilmington's best kept secrets: the Down's Cultural Arts Center at Ingleside Retirement Apartments, located at 1005 North Franklin Street."It's a great deal for non-profit organizations," says Bootless Executive and Artistic Director, Rosanne DellAversano. "It's free to use for non-profits. They're working to bring programs to the venue, where a percentage of tickets go to the residents." In addition to enriching the lives of the residents, the venue is open to the public.

Not the Messiah will have just two shows, on Friday January 31, and Saturday February 1. Both shows will be at 7:30 pm. Tickets for are $25 General Admission, $20 for Seniors and Military, and $18 for Students, and include complimentary refreshments at intermission. All proceeds will benefit Bootless Artworks. To purchase tickets, and for more information about Bootless, go to