VCU Theatre’s ‘Spamalot’ offers classic comedy and debut for new staff Director
You’d have to be living under a rock to not at least have some familiarity with the Knights Who Say Ni, the killer bunny, the holy hand grenade or any other references to the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail… and any even mediocre theatre fan knows of the equally impressive stage production based on the comedy classic.
And if you’re a fan of either, you’re in luck! TheatreVCU will launch its opening performance of Monty Python’s Spamalot on April 14 in the W.R. Singleton Performing Arts Center. The play, which is inspired by the 1975 cult classic film, provides a comedic take on the Arthurian quest to obtain the holy grail. Spamalot maintains the charm of the original film while adding musical numbers to the plot.
Leading the production is actor, director, and VCU professor Kikau Alvaro. As a recent Richmond transplant from California, he has acted in productions such as Up Here at La Jolla Playhouse and West Side Story with San Diego Musical Theatre.
Alvaro was fresh off of earning his Masters in Fine Arts from San Diego State University when he applied for a teaching position at VCU. Upon landing the job, he and his fiancé Derrick packed up and moved to Richmond where they’ve enjoyed the treasured restaurants in the area. Alvaro is an assistant professor of musical theater and movement of the actor. Spamalot is also his directorial debut at VCU.
Since its premiere in 2006, it’s not uncommon for Spamalot performances to incorporate references to pop culture or news events of modern-day times. According to Alvaro, VCU’s production will incorporate some allusions to current events in what he calls “ a meta broadway love letter.”
Alvaro said that the choreography and staging “makes fun of itself but also pays homage to various broadway shows.”
“In choreography we are inspired by West Side Story, Chorus Line and Cats,” he said. “We’ve even brought in to today to include some Hamilton references and things that modern audiences would be familiar with.”
Though the play is very similar to the original film, there are some differences, such as musical numbers and a new character, the Lady of the Lake, who Alvaro said serves to help steer the knights on their journey.
Alvaro explained that the cast and crew have been “playing since day one,” as they’ve toyed around with various ideas to see what works and what doesn’t with their production.
“The main rule has been: ‘Is it funny? Then, we’re keeping it in,’” Alvaro said.
However, Alvaro recognizes how comedy can be a window into other thoughts.
“Even something as silly as Spamalot can be a great way to open up conversations about bigger topics, like what’s going on in the world,” Alvaro said. “That is exactly why I think audiences will love it.”
Scheduled performances will take place April 14-15, 20-22, 27-29 starting at 7:30 pm. 3 o’clock matinees will also be performed on April 16, 23, and 30. Tickets may be purchased online or at the box office.
“Anyone who knows Monty Python and the Holy Grail will delight in some of the familiar lines and scenes from the movie…”July 26, 2016
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