Becki Arnall is thoroughly enjoying her first-ever foray into the slaptastic Monty Python universe with the upcoming production of “Spamalot.”
The farcical musical – debuting this week at Joplin Little Theater – is based off the 1975 “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” movie, complete with the blood-thirsty rabbit, insult-slinging French knights and the shrubbery-obsessed knights who say “Ni ! ”
“I had seen ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ film previous to the Broadway show, but until watching the cast perform at the Tony Awards, I did not really dive into it.”
It’s a departure of sorts for Arnall, who prefers tackling projects that are much heftier in both tone and content.
“I have been discussing this particular directing experience with others in that a large portion of shows I direct seem to carry significant emotional weight in their storyline, and this particular type of comedy remains so farcical throughout that it has been a unique but fun experience, She said.
Both the original 1975 movie and 2005’s “Spamalot” – written by Eric Idle, one of the six founding Monty Python members – parodies the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they desperately search the English countryside for the famous Holy Grail . Along the way, hilarity ensues. With the inclusion of beautiful stage girls, the production is also a satire of other popular musicals.
The stage production is filled with song and dance; a few of the songs are recognizable from the original movie, such as the “Monk’s Chant,” “Brave Sir Robin” and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” But others were exclusively created for the Broadway musical, including “Fisch Schlapping Song,” “The Song That Goes Like This” and the hilarious and quite rage-filled “Whatever Happened to My Part?”
“My personal favorite part of the show is when King Arthur and his knights attempt to diplomatically negotiate with the French taunters,” Arnall said. Indeed, King Arthur’s hilarious assault on French-occupied castle – and eventually running away when farm animals are catapulted at them – is one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
Among the iconic characters, ranging from dear, loyal Patsy to the Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Show, Arnall’s favorite is the “homicidally brave” Sir Lancelot, played by Joe Slade.
“I’m sure it is because his crazed killer persona taps into my darker sense of humor,” she said.
Jeffrey Pringle plays the great King Arthur; Additional cast members include: Rhonda Palmer (Sir Robin), Ethan Moser (Patsy), Zach Loving (Sir Galahad), Kolby Matson (Sir Bedevere), Ari Richins (Lady of the Lake), along with Michael Hooper, Tim Oliver, Nick James, Kaden Propps, Jay Atkins, Luke Jasinski, Kevin Loar, Earl Arnall, Chris Doyle and Cade Sinclair.
The “Spamalot” title is lifted from the movie’s “Camelot” song – yes, the “silly place” – in which the high-stepping prancing knights sings: “We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.”
Four 7:30 pm performances are scheduled from Wednesday through Saturday, May 21. There is also a 2:30 pm performance on Sunday, May 22. The show is rated PG-13 for language.
“There are a lot of new faces to the JLT stage involved in this production,” Arnall said. We also have cast members that commute from Pittsburg (Kansas), Miami (Oklahoma) and Bentonville (Arkansas) to join the cast. It has been a wonderfully cohesive cast with a ride range of age performers. ”
Our goal, she continued, “is that the audience walks away having laughed and enjoyed themselves in two hours. What a gift it is to be able to offer a temporary escape from the daily concerns of life. ”
Tickets, ranging in price from $ 15 to $ 18, are on sale now, and can be purchased at the theater, calling the JLT office at 417-623-3638, or online at www.joplinlittletheatre.org.