Students prepare for “Spamalot” premiere

Allison Mueller

The men’s ensemble rehearses the “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” dance during a “Spamalot” rehearsal on Thursday in the Vivian Fusillio Main Stage Theatre. The performances will take place Oct. 19-23. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)
The men’s ensemble rehearses the “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” dance during a “Spamalot” rehearsal on Thursday in the Vivian Fusillio Main Stage Theatre. The performances will take place Oct. 19-23. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Morghan Lemmenes / Winonan

Every two years, Winona State University’s department of theatre and dance puts on a musical. This year they chose “Spamalot,” a musical comedy adapted from the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which will be performed Oct. 19-23 in the Performing Arts Center.

“Spamalot” is a spoof on King Arthur and the knights of the round table and their search for the holy grail. A lot of characters from the movie will also be in the stage version, director Heather Williams, said.

The musical was written by Eric Idle, who was a member of the comedy troupe Monty Python Flying Circus.

“It’s a silly little thing about King Arthur collecting those knights to go search for the grail. They end up meeting French Taunters and a black knight who blocks their way. There is also a female character called Lady of the Lake who is a mythical figure who guides them on their quest,” Williams said.

With there being many different styles of musical theatre in this performance, this musical is spoofing all genres and sometimes makes references to specific musicals that are not “Spamalot.”

The auditions were held the first week of classes, with callbacks held at the end of that week. Students auditioned for “Spamalot” and another play for this season, “Nether,” at the same time. By holding auditions for both at the same time, they could pick between the plays or audition for them both.

Brooke May received her first lead role at Winona State in “Spamalot.”

For the first audition, we had to sing our song, followed by a cold read, which is singing music that you haven’t prepared for. Then for call backs we did cold reads of the script and some dance stuff, May said.

“Auditions are always nervous. Everyone wants to do their best and everyone is excited to do it for their colleagues. It’s very supportive,” May said.

“You fill out a form with all of your experience, kind of like your resume. Then you get a headshot taken,” May said about the audition process.

For eight weeks, the actors practice six days a week, three hours a day.

“Practices are going really well. We’ve got most of the stage and the set built. We do have a guest choreographer for this show from Minneapolis and he just arrived. So we are focusing on the big dance numbers while he is in town with us. Then we can start running through it all,” said Williams.

“Everything is off-book, which means we aren’t using scripts two weeks into practice. So what we are doing now is choreography,” May said. “Once we are done with that we can clean everything up and fix stuff that needs to be fixed. We were off-book really, really quickly for this show, which is really good.”

“We are going to have a show. It’s not there yet, but it’s getting there,” May said.

-By Morgan Lemmenes