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    • Emerson DelMonico ’21 poses in her costume for the show.

    • The cast rehearses “Knights of the Round Table.”

Dance-a-lot, Sing-a-lot, Spamalot!

Eleanor Doolittle ’20 Editor-in-Chief
On February 27, 28, 29, and March 1, the Hopkins Drama Association kicked off their winter season with Spamalot, directed and produced by Hope Hartup.
Based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the show follows King Arthur, his loyal steed Patsy, and the Knights of the Round Table on the quest for the Holy Grail. Griffin Congdon ’20, who played King Arthur, said,” Spamalot was an absurd roller coaster that luckily kept the audience laughing throughout. It was a huge time commitment, and I have never danced more in life, but it was so worth it in the end.”

In choosing Spamalot for the winter musical Hartup explained, “I figured we would go from the sublime to the ridiculous this year and it felt balanced to go from Hamlet to Spamalot. Looking at the over arch of our season, it is great that the musical is a comedy and a flat out satire. Also, there was a really strong selection of talented male singers and it is good for them to be challenged.”

Choreography was a huge aspect of the rehearsal process for Spamalot. Leah Miller ’20, who played the Head Knight of Ni, said, “This show is a lot more dance heavy than any of the musicals we have done at Hopkins before, which has been a fun challenge, but everyone has risen to the occasion.” Drew Slager ’21, who played Robin, agreed: “This has been my first big role in a musical and the choreography is so intense. Most of it is tap dancing, and none of us tap, especially me, so it is the biggest challenge by far.” Joseph Rebeschi ’21, an actor in the ensemble, spoke favorably of the dance-heavy show: “My
favorite moment has been working with our choreographer, Larry. He is funny and explains the dances in a really helpful way for those of us who don’t dance.”

The technical and setwork behind the scenes played a huge part in making Spamalot possible. The stage managers are crucial to putting on a successful production, from writing blocking notes in the script, to technical work, to painting sets. Corrine Evans ’20, Spamalot’s Production Stage Manager, said, “There has been so much setwork for this show, especially compared to Hamlet, which was in the round, so there was no set.” Zach Williamson ’22, Spamalot’s stage manager, added, “I have spent all of my free periods working on the set, which has been new for me. There are also some giant set pieces, for instance a Trojan rabbit, that took a long time to construct and paint.” Hartup complimented the stage managers work: “Corinne and Zach are truly amazing. Corinne has brought stage managing to a whole new level at Hopkins and Zach is right there with her step for step. I think she is going to be handing off an improved stage management program to the other kids coming off the pipeline. I am really proud of her and Zach and of their devotion.”

There was an emphasis on cast bonding throughout Spamalot’s rehearsal process. Ranease Brown ’21, who played Lady of the Lake said, “With this show, specifically, we needed to bond the heck out of this cast to be able to perform these numbers where we stand on each other and carry each other, and make it look effortless.” Rebeschi felt the effects of this trust: “Maybe my favorite part of the show is the song ‘Runaway.’ I get picked up and carried around by Petey [Graham ’20] and Leah [Miller ’20], then get used as a battering ram.” In comparison to last year’s musical, Into the Woods, Slager noted, “Into the Woods was really focused on individual characters, and Spamalot is very ensemble-oriented with big group pieces. There were a ton of characters going on and off the stage, and everyone needed to be on top of things. But, everyone pulled through and it was really special to be a part of such a dedicated cast.”

This inclusion and shared love of theater mimicked the meaning behind Spamalot in the first place. Hartup explained, “It is absolutely a show that celebrates diversity and special groups that get marginalized. Especially groups that have been hugely important to the theater community of Broadway for the last century. Ultimately, the show is a love letter to the ‘Old Broadway.’”

Spamalot “liked to ridicule the norms and conventions of society and religion, and people needed to come prepared for the tropes of the show but at the same time, there is a lot of love and affection,” said Hartup. “While the show causes us to laugh, the ultimate message of the show is that everyone should find their grail of what gives meaning in their life.”
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