Seacoast Rep to Stage Monty Python's SPAMALOT

Seacoast Rep to Stage Monty Python's SPAMALOT

The Seacoast entertainment scene has been reeling this year with the loss of cherished Portsmouth nightspots, but audiences will get a chance to "look on the bright side of life" with the Seacoast Repertory Theatre's production of Monty Python's SPAMALOT.

SPAMALOT opens on June 23. It is the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the 1975 movie parody that continues to create new generations of fans with its parody the King Arthur legend. SPAMALOT debuted on Broadway in 2005 and won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The production takes the stage amid a time of change in Portsmouth's nightlife. There was the fire that destroyed the State Street Saloon, the temporary closure of The Press Room jazz bar, and the shuttering of the Coat of Arms Pub, all favorites of the area arts community.

"It just seems like one thing after the other," said SPAMALOT director Seraphina Caligiure, making her debut on the Seacoast Rep's main stage. "I just think comedy is really important for everyone right now. Spamalot is going to be the perfect thing to raise people's spirits. This show is going to be hilarious."

The 20 actors in this big-cast production are all from the region, Caligiure said. "We're not bringing in anyone from New York. We just found the perfect people. I knew that we had the talent here. It was important to me to showcase that."

The show irreverently depicts King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, in which he is accompanied by his servant Patsy and a band of knights.

Fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail will see that the musical mostly adheres to the movie - which made the "Knights who say 'Ni'," killer rabbits and insulting French guards into pop-culture touchstones.

"I do want to stay true to the movie," Caligiure said.

There are some changes. A love interest - the Lady of the Lake - is introduced. The merry anthem "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is borrowed from another Python movie, Monty Python's Life of Brian. That song has taken on a life of its own as a popular singalong for times of adversity or exuberance.

King Arthur will be played by Jamie Bradley, a Seacoast Rep veteran and its associate artistic director.

His portrayal of the legendary 6th-century king is inspired both by Graham Chapman, the Monty Python actor who played King Arthur in the movie, and by Tim Curry, the Rocky Horror Show star who originated the Arthur role in the SPAMALOT productions.

"I'm trying to find a balance between those two kings and adding my own sense of timing," Bradley said. "It's definitely a challenge."

By virtue of comprising local actors, the cast has quickly jelled, he said. "The chemistry and camaraderie has already been established over the years, it's great to put it all together for this show."

Among the ensemble members are three interns, the Seacoast Rep's first in an initiative to support students interested in the arts. They are Mary Jardine and Emma Joanis of Portsmouth, and Brendan Callahan of Raleigh, Massachusetts. "It's a great opportunity. They get to be on a professional set, with professional costumes," said Caligiure, who runs the Seacoast Rep's youth programs.

Jardine and Joanis also will be acting in a youth production of SPAMALOT staged by the Seacoast Rep's Portsmouth Academy of Performing Arts, starting July 12.

Caligiure saw the original production of SPAMALOT during a University of New Hampshire field trip to New York for theater students, so the chance to direct the show has a particular thrill, she said. "Just the fact that I got to experience that 12 years ago, and now I'm directing it, it's really exciting for me," she said.

"I love the show. I love the movie that it's based on. You can't go wrong. It's great for all ages," she said.

SPAMALOT runs June 23-July 30. Showtimes are Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are available through the Seacoast Rep box office at 603-433-4472, or online at www.seacoastrep.org/tickets. For student discounts, call the box office. SPAMALOT is proudly sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Electric, and Liberty Mutual Insurance. The Seacoast Repertory Theatre's 2017 season is sponsored in part by Bondgarden Farms, Portsmouth Public Media, MacEdge, Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel and Town and Country Services.

The Seacoast Repertory Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit theatre committed to providing a variety of programming for the community. The Rep presents professional programming through its Mainstage, alternative programming through its Red Light Series and also offers a variety of programs for youth and seniors.

Photo Credit: Jasmin Hunter

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