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ALTON - Alton Little Theater is preparing to kick off its 90th season later this month with its production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” They promise a killer bunny, Excalibur and a lot of fun.
“Monty Python’s Spamalot,” a musical based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” is directed by Kevin Frakes. With 12 dances and 25 songs, the show has been a chance for local actors to come together and do what they love most: perform.
“In the community theater realm, most people are pretty welcoming and pretty friendly,” If you got skills, people are happy to have you,” said Therese Melnykov, who has been involved in community theater for over 20 years and will play the Lady of the Lake.
In a lot of ways, the power of community theater connects to the main themes of the show itself. “Monty Python’s Spamalot” encourages audiences to find their dream and follow it. Alton Little Theater has given many local performers an opportunity to do exactly that.
But of course, the cast can’t succeed without the crew. Lee Cox, who wears many hats at Alton Little Theater, has been overseeing the production throughout the past month of rehearsals. She joked that she gives some much-needed organization to the show.
“I keep everything organized. The dancers, the vocalists, they’re artists, and I love that. But somebody has to organize it,” Cox laughed. But of course, she still feels a lot of affection for her actors, adding, “They are so cute. Every one of them is cute in a different way.”
Her efforts have been appreciated. Many cast members noted that the people are the best part of performing with Alton Little Theater, and that’s why the theater is still thriving after 90 years.
“Lee Cox, Kevin Frakes, they are great people to work with. Every cast is always different, but it’s always a good group of people here,” Hal Morgan, who plays King Arthur, said. “It’s going to be a hilarious show. It’s a laugh riot with everything that goes on. And the people, I mean, we have some hilarious comedians in there.”
Everyone involved in the production has echoed this. “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is widely regarded as a comedy staple in film, and Alton Little Theater plans to make this musical retelling just as fun. There are many references to other musicals and movies in the script, which add to the silliness.
“You’ll hear little strains of music and say, ‘Wait, wait. I know that.’ And unless you’re a real theater buff, you might say, ‘What’s that from?’ and ‘Why is he pretending to be Barbara Streisand?’” Cox said, adding, “[Some of these references] have absolutely no point, other than they’re just fun, and they put on different calypso costumes and dance around.”
This has helped guide the cast, many of whom are big fans of the original movie. Melnykov noted that a lot of the musical’s dialogue comes from the movie, and she has used the source material to inform her acting.
“It’s knowing those references so you really get the humor and know how it should look,” Melnykov explained. “You want to make sure the people who are fans, who know the material, who grew up watching the movie…when they come in, that they won’t be disappointed.”
Disappointment is unlikely with a cast and crew as dedicated as this. They encourage audiences to come and enjoy the musical, whether they’re familiar with the movie or not. Cox noted that the show has a few PG moments, but it’s otherwise “safe” for kids. Everyone involved in this production is eager to show off what they’ve been rehearsing and honor the tradition of community theater at Alton Little Theater.
“We’re getting the chance to actually get up there and perform something that’s so beloved by many, let alone the people who are up there onstage. But on this stage, in particular, we’re kicking off the 90th season,” Todd Micali, who plays Patsy, said. “It’s an honor to be on a stage with so much history.”
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” will open at 7:30 p.m. on July 21, 22 and 26–29, and at 2 p.m. on July 23 and 30. To purchase tickets or learn more about the upcoming 90th season, visit the Alton Little Theater website.
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