The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 11, 2013

'Spamalot' opens at MSU today


The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Paul Hustoles has been waiting patiently to get his hands on “Spamalot.”

The chair of Minnesota State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, who happens to be a lifelong Monty Python fan, reaps his reward today when the wildly successful musical comedy based on the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” makes its MSU debut.

Incidentally, MSU will become the first theatre in the state to stage the play, the production rights to which have only recently become available.

“As soon as it was available,” he said, “we jumped on it.”

And, as Hustoles notes, he's not aiming for a stripped-down, buttoned-up and glossed-over treatment of the Monty Python classic. Rather, he's looking forward to showcasing the humor of the British sketch comedy icons at its bawdy, irreverent best.

From bloodthirsty rabbits and holy hand grenades to Knights Who Say "Ni" and flatulent Frenchmen, Hustoles said MSU's production of "Spamalot" will tribute, rather than truncate, the Monty Python style of humor.

"We're trying to honor Monty Python," Hustoles said. "Not avoid it."

The story, of course, parodies the legend of King Arthur, who travels with his servant Patsy and a recruited band of accompanying knights in search of the Holy Grail.

The play version differs only slightly from the film version, and includes several additional musical selections. MSU's production will also include Terry Gilliam-esque animation sketches (provided by a department alumni) and an on-screen appearance by fellow original Python member Eric Idle.

Also, in homage to the Monty Python tradition, each of the actors -- save the two lead roles of Arthur (played by Reginald B. Haney) and the Lady of the Lake (Kaitlin Dahlquist) -- plays multiple roles. Hustoles estimated there are about 120 costumes for the play's 18 actors.

"And every time they change a costume, they change a character," he said.

traveling with his servant Patsy (senior BFA Acting candidate Carter Allen), recruits several knights to accompany him on his quest, including Sir Bedevere (junior BFA Acting candidate Andy Rotchadl), Sir Robin (junior BFA Acting candidate Ben Stasny), Sir Lancelot (senior BFA Musical Theatre candidate Jake McInerney) and Sir Galahad (spring BFA Musical graduate Devin Basart). Besides the rabbits and farting Frenchman, they meet such characters as the Lady of the Lake (senior BFA Musical Theatre candidate Kaitlin Dahlquist), Prince Herbert, Tim the Enchanter, Not Dead Fred, the Black Knight and the Knights who say Ni. This is “Spamalot’s” Minnesota State Mankato debut.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as 7:30 p.m. on July 17-20. All performances in the Ted Paul Theatre. Tickets available at MSUTheatre.com or by calling or stopping by the Theatre & Dance Box Office 4-6 p.m., Monday-Friday. Call 507-389-6661. Cost is $22, $19 discounted (available through the box office only) and $15 for MSU students.