I had the good fortune, if that’s what you want to call it, to sit down with the director and stars of the upcoming Harbor Playhouse production, Monty Python’s Spamalot, ahead of its Friday opening, to discuss the show, its cast and characters, and why this new retelling is so good that audience members should bring an extra pair of pants.
To catch you up on the show, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about: Monty Python’s Spamalot is a musical comedy stage-adaptation of the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The original 2005 production, directed by Mike Nichols, first premiered on Broadway in 2005, eventually going on to win three Tony Awards.
Now, that legendary production is getting its own Corpus Christi twist, with the help of an eclectic group of actors and a director who’s as much of a practical joker as the play is a farce. Before diving into the details of the show, I decided to ask the production’s director, Ken Yarbrough, about his background and how he came to helm this certain production. His answer clued me in immediately to who this group of people is and why they’re perfect for Spamalot.
“I was scrubbing toilets here at the Playhouse, and the guy that was supposed to be directing was arrested for…I don’t know, something. And I was in the right place at the right time, and there you go,” Yarbrough said, with a smirk. “No, no. I’m just kidding.”
In reality, Yarbrough has been involved in theater for more than twelve years, directing an array of family and youth productions across the Coastal Bend and in Port Aransas. After holding auditions for Spamalot, Yarbrough chose an electric group of local actors to bring the cult classic to life on the Harbor Playhouse stage. Nick Wommack and Jordan DeGaish, who play King Arthur and Lady of the Lake, respectfully, are just as dynamic as the show’s director, and therefore, are just as excited for its opening.
“This show is a huge, ridiculously fun time. People are going to laugh more than they’ve laughed in the past year. Plus, I think we’re all pretty talented,” Wommack said, a small grin giving away his true enthusiasm. “They should definitely come give it a look-see. “
Wommack describes his King Arthur character as an egotistical, self-centered man.
“He thinks everyone should think he’s the best because he’s king. Really, he thinks everyone’s out to get him, but he basically walks on rose pedals the whole play,” Wommack said. “He’s not a very good king, but he thinks he is.”
Likewise, DeGaish describes her Lady of the Lake character as quite the diva, acting as if everything revolves around her. Throughout the show, the Lady of the Lake helps the knights on their quest to find the Grail, but in the end, it’s only for her own benefit.
“She wants people to know she’s helping, because she wants to be noticed, because she is the star of the show,” DeGaish quipped. “Okay, she’s not really.”
In reality, the star of the show is the show itself, promising to be a faithful retelling of the 1975 cult film, with a few little twists to make it fresh. I tried to get a little behind-the-scenes knowledge on the show, and what makes it so special from the director. Instead of giving me a straight answer, Yarbrough suddenly became shifty-eyed, and cleared his throat.
“Well, um, I’m trying to think of something nice to say about it... Oh! It’s only 2 hours and 18 minutes long,” Yarbrough said, playful laughter behind his voice. “If you can make it through the first twenty minutes, then you’re good to go!”
After a moment, Yarbrough finally decided to get serious with me, and described the local production as staying true to the film, but also being unique to Corpus Christi.
“The original vision for it was exactly that; it has to not be a mimic, but a faithful retelling, so that fans will appreciate it and not burn the theater down,” Yarbrough said. “You know, fans tend to get really violent if you mess with their stuff. So we try not to do that.”
To recap: if you’re looking for a night filled with non-stop laughter, look no further than the Harbor Playhouse’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. Promising to be the one and only quote-a-long, holy grail of pants-changing entertainment for the Coastal Bend this summer.
“You should see Spamalot because I look hot, I sound amazing, and I’m the best part of the show,” proclaimed DeGaish, supposedly as a joke, but I noticed that sparkle in her eyes as she continued, “I mean, who wouldn’t want to laugh? It’s hysterical. It’s so stupid, it’s funny.”
Yarbrough agreed, calling the show the funniest thing Corpus Christi will have seen in a long time.
“They’re going to leave the theater feeling happy, feeling joyful, feeling like they’ve spent the best…what is it, how much are we charging to get in? $2? $300? It’s somewhere in that range. But they’ll feel like it’s the best money they’ve ever spent.”
Spamalot opens this Friday, May 27, and will run through June 29, with evening performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For ticket information, visit www.harborplayhouse.com.