Spamalot Plays in Middlebury

By Jason Zhang

On Sunday, May 3, the Community Theater’s version of Spamalot came to a close. The show had been running since April 23 at 8 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2pm on Sundays.

Spamalot is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The title itself, as explained by one of the musical’s creators Eric Idle, comes from a line in the movie, “We eat ham, and jam and Spam a lot.” The name, like its content, suggests the playfulness of the theater show. The show is less about the Arthurian Legend than an irreverent parody of it, as King Arthur travels his country with his only servant Patsy, who bangs two coconut shells to make the sound of a horse’s hooves as the King “rides” an imaginary horse before him.

Despite the monstrous commitment required for the show, many community theater enthusiasts, students and even a professional wrestler, who is the actor of King Arthur, gathered in the Town Hall Theater and work wholeheartedly to make this major production happen. Spamalot is arguably the biggest production the Middlebury Community Players have ever done. Over 110 different costumes were made for the show and 300 individual pieces were made for the show to happen. That single component of the production speaks a lot about the efforts of the production team and the quality of the show. The rich variety made the show a visual feast.

Timothy Fraser ’16, who played Sir Robin, one of the six major roles in the musical comedy, explains the reason he got involved with the show.

“It was the second week of J-term. I got an email from Brainerd Commons, it was their regular weekly email about opportunities, and it included Spamalot auditions for the Community Theater. Spamalot is one of my favorite musicals. I went down to auditions, and it turned out that singing in the College Choir with Jeff Whitner, doing the Swing Dance Club on campus give me a little bit experience with singing and dancing. And things work out,” Fraser said.

After joining the crew, Fraser began to commit time and hard work to this major production along with 30 strong cast members and production members. He started practicing and rehearsing from late January to last Sunday, when the show drops the curtain. He talked about the challenges he faced after he fit this exciting yet demanding project into his schedule.
Fraser said he was, “going to 6-hour rehearsals from two weeks before the show opens and then I came back home to write my papers till late in the morning.”

Ultimately however, Fraser found his experience very rewarding.

“But it is really worthwhile” Fraser said. “I had a wonderful time. I would definitely encourage Middlebury students to get involved in a theater production outside of the College because it introduces me a whole host of new people, 30 people now who thinks of each other as really knowing each other well, people in their 40s, in their 50s and in their 30s and teenagers.”
Fraser was not the only Middlebury student who participated in the show. Ashley Fink ’18 also acted in the show as a Laker Girl and singer.

What’s more extraordinary about this quality production is that every member of the cast and crew essentially volunteered to join the show. “Nobody gets paid.” The Director of Spamalot and the President of the Middlebury Community Players Dora Greven said, “It must be the love for the theater.”

Agreeing that the commitment from the cast and crew must be simply for the love of the theater, Greven said emphatically, “Yes, it must be.”

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