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These Are the Knights Who Say 'NI!'

Members of the cast for the upcoming production of Spamalot opening April 14 in the Chalberg Theater are Marc Oliphant (left front) Rhonda Schmidt, Nicole Rothleutner, Rachel Martin and Bri Keran. Dressed for the medieval culture spoof are Eric Boyles, (top left) Jesse Brutscher, Shane Keran, Michael Sander and Charlie Johnson. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)

Join King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they journey on their quest for the Holy Grail when Brainerd Community Theatre presents "Monty Python's Spamalot," opening on April 14 and playing six performances through April 23. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College.

"Monty Python's Spamalot" is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Like the film, it is a wildly irreverent parody of the Arthurian legend. One of the musical's creators, Eric Idle, explained the title this way: "I like the title 'Spamalot' a lot. We tested it with audiences on my recent U.S. tour and they liked it as much as I did, which is gratifying. It comes from a line in the movie which goes: 'We eat ham, and jam, and Spam a lot,'" it stated in a press release.

The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by the late Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004—05 season and received 14 Tony Award nominations. During its initial run of over 1,500 performances it was seen by more than two million people and grossed more than $175 million. The original cast included Tim Curry as Arthur, David Hyde-Pierce as Sir Robin and Hank Azaria as Sir Lancelot.

The Brainerd Community Theatre production is directed by Patrick Spradlin, and features a cast of 25 local actors and an orchestra of 13 members.

"I've lived my entire life as a Monty Python fan," Spradlin said. "Evidently, I am not alone. When I announced this show as part of the season, there was an immediate outpouring of enthusiasm from the local theatre community."

Some of the cast members of the show share Spradlin's enthusiasm.

Bri Keran, who plays the Historian and the Head Minstrel, stated in a press release: "One of the first movies I remember watching as a kid was 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail.' It has always been a family favorite. I am so honored to be a part of this production and incredibly happy I get to share the stage with my older brother Shane. We have had a fun time reliving our youth throughout this rehearsal process."

Travis Chaput, who plays Sir Galahad, stated, "'Spamalot' is unlike any other show I have done. In most shows a director has to tell you to give more to the character to really exaggerate them for the stage. It's almost impossible to do that with this show. I am so proud to be part of this amazing cast. Everyone is working really hard to make this a production you won't forget. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this show. Everyone will love it."

The Lady of the Lake is played by Sadie Wunder, who stated, "It is always a fantastic experience putting a show together. Learning each element separately, the songs, scenes, and dance numbers, it's hard to tell what the show will shape up to become. 'Spamalot' has been absolutely hilarious from the beginning. To see these pieces come together has been magical."

King Arthur is played by Michael Sander, who stated, "It's good being king, especially because this is a King Arthur filtered through the Monty Python sensibility, so occasionally I get to do something totally unexpected. Others have the big comic turns—and do them wonderfully—but I feel that I'm the glue that binds all of the craziness together."

The cast is a cross-section of many local communities, Spradlin stated. "We have cast members not only from Brainerd and Baxter, but also from Little Falls, Isle, Garrison, Pequot Lakes, Pine River, Breezy Point and Aitkin. We have band members who live in Fargo. It's truly a multi-community event."

Cast members include Mike Anderson, Phylipe Belle, Alex Boyles, Eric Boyles, Jesse Brutscher, Laura Burgess, Warren Case, Travis Chaput, Brianna Engels, Rande Erickson, Jon Howard, Charlie Johnson, Bri Keran, Shane Keran, Rachel Martin, Isaac Nadeau, Marc Oliphant, Brecken Pedersen, Shania Robinson, Nicole Rothleutner, Michael Sander, Rhonda Schmidt, Schuyler Volkmuth and Sadie Wunder.

Joining Spradlin on the creative team are vocal director Sarah Aamot; orchestra director Steve Anderson; set designer Tim Leagjeld; costume designer Dawn Marks; properties mistress Laura Burgess; lighting and sound designer Ben Kent; technical director George Marsolek; and choreographers Paul Mathieu and Stephanie White, who also is the production stage manager.

White stated, "I am so excited for the Brainerd lakes area to see this production of 'Spamalot.' The cast is packed full of new and seasoned talent. As production stage manager and co-choreographer, I have watched these actors come to life and have helped them develop dancing skills they didn't know they possessed. I am so proud of all of the production team, cast, and orchestra. We are ready to entertain you."

Kent, who hails from the U.K., has a different take on the production. He stated, "Being a British citizen, it is a legal requirement for all to have watched 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,' and be able to quote it verbatim. We also have to know how to get the phrase 'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition' into polite conversation. Seriously though, I was brought up on a diet of Monty Python, and their comedy is thoroughly ingrained in British culture. I am therefore delighted to help bring 'Spamalot' to the Brainerd stage with flashing lights, and things that go bang."

Tickets for "Spamalot" are available online at www.clcmn.edu/arts or from the CLC Box Office at 218-855-8199.

This production is sponsored by the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts.

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