“Spamalot” gallops through Winona

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Winona State alumnus Thomas Sonneman plays the role of King Arthur and introduces his Knights of the Round Table in “Spamalot” during the last dress rehearsal Tuesday, Oct. 18. (By Lauren Reuteler)

Winona State alumnus Thomas Sonneman plays the role of King Arthur and introduces his Knights of the Round Table in “Spamalot” during the last dress rehearsal Tuesday, Oct. 18. (By Lauren Reuteler)

Elizabeth Pulanco / Winonan

In the October of an election year, an escape from the near-winter temperatures and constant election coverage on the news is something that is hard to find. From October 19-23, Winona State University’s department of theatre and dance was able to provide this escape with their production of “Spamalot.”

“Spamalot” is a musical based off of the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which was made famous by the Monty Python comedy group in the 1970s. The group’s surreal and slapstick humor is a staple in the show and gave the audience much to laugh about.

The story follows the legend of King Arthur as he searches for knights to add to his round table. After gathering a group of brave knights, the group goes to Camelot where they receive a quest to find the Holy Grail.

However, in true Monty Python fashion, the legend is flipped on its head and the students in the show worked with the material beautifully, never missing a beat or a punch line.

In this interpretation of the classic story, King Arthur is joined by his squire Patsy, who dutifully follows him, and when it is time for a journey on horseback, provides the appropriate sound effects with coconut halves.

Winona State alumnus Thomas Sonneman and student performer Daniel Kopitzke play the roles of King Arthur and Patsy respectively, and the two have a great rapport, playing off one another with impeccable comedic timing.

While King Arthur is gathering his knights, the Lady of the Lake, the figure that gave him the sword Excalibur and the crown, visits him. During her first appearance, she transforms a villager, Dennis, into the perfect knight. The Lady of the Lake and Dennis, now Sir Galahad, return and perform a “Phantom of the Opera” inspired song, with a boat and all. The song, appropriately called “The Song That Goes Like This” is performed with humor and is a great parody of the love ballads found in classic musicals.

Once the Knights of the Round Table are brought together, the team makes their way to a Las Vegas-inspired Camelot. The Knights of the Round Table, which includes Sir Lancelot, Sir Robin, Sir Galahad and Sir Bedevere, are delightful as an ensemble and individually.

The music in the show, written by John Du Prez and Monty Python member Eric Idle features music from Monty Python films and music that was inspired by other Broadway musicals. The show stopping number performed by Sir Robin “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” was inspired by the hit musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Another highlight of the show were the costumes. The knights and King Arthur were wearing traditional chainmail and armor, while the Lady of the Lady had multiple costume changes, each more extravagant and intricate.

Students who saw the show enjoyed the humor and it was a nice escape from exams and classes.

“I loved it,” junior Elladee Zak said. “It was laugh out loud funny.”

For the musical choice this year, director Heather Williams-Williams, wanted to go a more humorous route, and to her, “Spamalot” was the perfect choice.

“The last musical we did was ‘Assassins,’ which is a dark musical by Stephen Sondheim and this year we wanted to do something that was a little more comedic and light-hearted.”

Along with enjoying the humor, the students also enjoyed the technical elements of the show.

“The choreography fit the show really well,” sophomore Tia Arzen said.

For this show, Williams-Williams worked with a choreographer from the Twin Cities.

“He choreographed about half of the dance numbers and I did the other half, so working with another artist in that way was very enjoyable,” Williams-Williams said. “I think the students got a lot out of having a new perspective to someone who is working professionally outside of the university community and coming in and sharing his knowledge with them.”

Whether you like musicals, comedy or both, it was hard to find something not to love about this performance of “Spamalot.”

When going into opening night, Williams-Williams had high hopes for the show, and through this performance, these goals were met.

“It’s light-hearted and I think at this time of year, coming right after midterms, that we all need a little joy in our life, so it should be a stress reliever,” Williams-Williams said. “A lot of the shows we do have more deeper messages and this one is just pure entertainment.”

-By Elizabeth Pulanco

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