• Karl

They Will Fart In Your General Direction: The Stony Point Players Do SPAMALOT

Updated: Jun 21, 2019


READ THESE WORDS FIRST:

SPAMALOT runs from June 27th-30th at 500 N. Grand in Charles City, IA. You can (and should) buy tickets here: TICKETS


Rehearsal!!


MIDWEST of EVERYTHING (June 2019) - Sacred ground. That's what one traverses when they attempt to do a Monty Python production - they walk on sacred ground. There are key gags and jokes that need to be done and done well for this "sacred of all cows" to be successful in the hearts of some of the most steadfast of Python fans.


And not just Monty Python fans, but fans of comedy in general. I am of the mindset that some jokes or bits have a shelf-life no matter who does it. The "hook" gets old or the joke becomes part of pop culture - so much so that it gets worn out. For me, that is true for a lot of comedians and movies and shows I have seen... their "bits" get old. I may be entertained, but I'm no longer laughing my ass off (LMAO) like I did the first time.


And I think that might be where some folks in the community resist when it comes to buying a ticket to see the Stony Point Players do this sacred beast called Spamalot.


But, if I can be of any service in this transaction, I am here to preach that you have no fear - these folks are doing the great Python proud. I found myself laughing on many occasions as I stood towards the back taking photos.




It is going to be a great performance. I believe you will laugh out loud. (lol)


The play is an adaption of the great 1975 Python movie Monty Python And The Holy Grail. All the best gags and bits are in the play - and they are delivered very well. One of my favorite characters/bits from the movie is the interaction with the French guard - his insults. My juvenile mind enjoys this mucho. Erik Gordon does an extraordinary job in both this and his role as "Historian".

Erik threatens with gas.


"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."


Sir Erik of Chucktown

Erik wasn't so sure he was going to play a role in the next Stony Point Production, but when he learned it was Spamalot he had to. It was a bucket list for him.

Last year Erik was in The Wizard Of Oz and has done other productions like Rumors over the years. He was planning on helping this year no matter what, but had no yearning for a part until he found out it was Monty Python.

I asked Erik if he gets nervous before a performance.

"I think everyone gets nervous, especially on opening night, but that goes away. ...On the last night I am usually thinking I just want to get it over with and be done with it - get these songs out of my head."

Singing AND dancing is the most difficult part for Erik. You likely wont notice, I didn't. He is great.



Speaking of songs... This play has some of my favorites. The Song That Goes Like This is a classic. But, He Is Not Dead Yet is probably my favorite. Its just a funny song in a funny scene, starting with "Bring out your dead!" and then the shovel smack on the character who insists he is not dead. This cast pulls the whole scene off extremely well.


"I'm not dead..." Then later, POW!

Michael Peterson does a superb job in the role of Not Dead Fred.

He knows how to properly take a shovel to the head.

(See what I did there? I'm a poet.)


One of the main characters of the play is the Lady of the Lake played by Jessica Schwickerath.

A paralegal by day, she earned a Masters in vocal performance from Colorado State University, so this gig is right up her alley. It is obvious, even in rehearsal, that she is not only extremely talented, but is also having loads of fun. It made me want to jump up and sing along. She nails it.



Alongside Stony Point regulars are a handful of the next generation of theater performers (including my son... who is the single greatest performer to ever grace a stage anywhere in the world - imho). Many parents had to sign a release so the under 18 could perform in this play. Language, content etc..

For instance: my wife wrote a note to the music director, Derek Sturtevant, saying my son was allowed to say "penis" on stage and not suffer the humiliation of saying the less funny "privates" otherwise. Penis is funnier than privates. Gotta maintain the integrity of the script!

My kick-ass son in blue T (center). Immeasurably proud of him.

Here are more words and photos to look at:


You think it's safe to take bread from a stranger?

KAPOW! Think again.


GUARD: What, ridden on a horse?

ARTHUR: Yes!

GUARD: You're using coconuts!

Josh Vaske-Huff as Patsy and Larry Michehl as King Arthur

"It's a simple question of weight ratios... A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut."

Who could not love this scene? WHO, I beg?


It's in there and done very well.



Commercial break:


BEER TASTES GOOD.


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I arrived at the Act One rehearsal with my son in tow. It was a Monday night. I walked in and found Derek Sturtevant (HS Choir Director and Music Director for this production) who was my point of contact for this story. He directed me to Jessica and helped me get situated.

I started backstage as things were getting set-up and the cast was getting a pre-rehearsal soundcheck and a few directions for the night.

There are ladders backstage. People climb them.




From there, the night got going with Act One rehearsal.


Here are photos that you can look at starting now:


Tanner Striegel as Galahad (Dennis) with King Arthur and Patsy

"We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune."









If the live performance is as exciting as the rehearsal was - which I am sure it will be more so - all attending this show will have fun. I would stake my poor, meager reputation on it.


Was the rehearsal a 3 hour long cavalcade of dancing and singing and joking?

...

No. No, it was not. ...


Often times the dancing and singing and joking would stop, so director Janice Bergland or Music Director Derek Sturtevant could offer advice or change something or tweak something. The play was still 2 weeks out from going live and there are a few bumps and bruises to smooth out. It was extremely interesting to see that in action and I am excited to see the live opening on Thursday to see how some of my favorite scenes got situated.


The theater was dark off stage. But, I snagged a few photos anyway. No flash as to not interfere.


Music Director Derek Sturtevant goes over notes.

World-renown saxophonist, Scott Stroud, prepares for the evenings fun.

The evening ended with the cast and directors discussing the evenings rehearsal and the rehearsals to come.


Ridiculously unimportant descriptive words:

>Some people sat with their legs crossed, while others stood. One guy did a half-crouch for a few minutes before finally standing back up. People pointed and used their hands when they talked. Some looked interested, others looked tired.<


I stood in the back and reflected on my evening with such awesome folks, while simultaneously making plans for a beer.



For the first 2 hours of rehearsal I was thinking to myself, "Karl, sir, you should get involved in theater. It is so much fun you can sing and dance and tell jokes. Get on stage and have a blast."

But... the last hour of rehearsal was more of me telling myself, "Karl, I am glad you have not signed up for any theater."


The last hour stretched out like a lonely Utah highway.


I started thinking about the 3 nights a week (and more) that these fine people put into this production. Rehearsals run 3 hours, but its longer for many. Time spent away from rehearsals in conversations and planning - thinking about ways to make it better - building and painting sets and props - memorizing lines... None of these folks are paid for this, it is done for the love of the show. It is done for love of acting - a love for the craft.


That love comes through in the performances.

It came through strong in a rehearsal - just an average Monday night Act One rehearsal. It was full of passion.

I can't wait for the opening night on Thursday June 27th.

I hope to see you there!


- Karl VonHamburglar


You can get there by reading these last words:

SPAMALOT runs from June 27th-30th at 500 N. Grand in Charles City, IA. You can (and should) buy tickets here: TICKETS


*If I see you there, I hereby promise to maybe give you a polite nod... but only if I semi-recognize you.



We Got Corn - MIDWEST of EVERYTHING

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