Theater cast sing, dance and revel in Monty Python musical

Choji Yamamoto, Woody Ciskowski, Steve Guntli, JB Stiglitz, and Brian Francis perform in Bellingham Theatre Guild’s production of “Monty Python's Spamalot,” Sept. 25-Oct. 11.
Choji Yamamoto, Woody Ciskowski, Steve Guntli, JB Stiglitz, and Brian Francis perform in Bellingham Theatre Guild’s production of “Monty Python's Spamalot,” Sept. 25-Oct. 11. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Virtually everyone in Bellingham Theatre Guild’s upcoming production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” is a diehard fan of the British comedic farce. Which is why they auditioned.

“Spamalot” opens Friday, Sept. 25, at the guild’s playhouse, 1600 H St., and runs through Oct. 11.

Brian Francis plays Arthur, King of the Britons, whom he describes as “lord and ruler of all of England and Scotland and even tiny little bits of Gaul.”

“How can one NOT be a Monty Python fan?,” he asks, facetiously.

“Firstly,” says Francis, “Python, Monty, Ltd. is responsible for some of the most significant societal satire of the 20th century.”

This is British farce with music, says Francis, with many of the cast members tickled by the humor as they watch other scenes from the wings.

For the uninitiated, the musical comedy is adapted from the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” A bit of trivia: playwright Eric Idle, one of the show’s creators, says the title comes from a line in the movie which goes: “we eat ham, and jam and Spam a lot.”

Steve Guntli, the editor of the Northern Light newspaper in Blaine, he plays Sir Robin.

“Robin is one of Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table,” Guntli says, “but he has no interest in fighting or conquering and is actually a huge coward. He only joined the army in the first place because he’d heard it was all dressing up and dancing.”

Jeffrey Stiglitz plays Patsy, who Stiglitz calls “the backbone of the play, the arch support, as he is the one who keeps Arthur going when the tide turns against him. He is the Tenzing Norgay to Edmund Hillary.”

“He is the leading man in a regular man’s clothes,” Stiglitz says. “And he owns the only coconuts in England.”

Deborah Manley is the production’s musical director — the wicked witch with the pointy white stick, she calls herself — who says she’s “responsible for making a group of rugged individuals — the actors — sound like a coherent group.

The cast, she says, is made up of “multitalented people, people who can sing and dance, often at the same time.”

Alycia Hendrickson is “the “watery tart;” the Lady of the Lake, a part she describes as “a guiding role for King Arthur who occasionally comes on the stage and belts her little heart out with some sage wisdom — or just plain fun — and leaves everyone in the wake of her wonder.”

The Lady of the Lake is also a bit of a diva, Hendrickson says. She admits that ever since she saw the show on Broadway more than 10 years ago, she has been singing the “diva” songs, such as “The Song That Goes Like This” and “Whatever Happened to My Part?”

Here’s how each of these people summarize the show.

Guntli: “A group of idiots try to find the Holy Grail, singing songs and dancing in the meantime.”

Stiglitz: “It is a silly place, a magical place, a place of music and dancing.”

Francis: “Wacky king rides an invisible horse through 10th-century England, gathering a bunch of knights together, and seeks and finds the Holy Grail and marries the Lady of the Lake, all to music.”

Manley: “A bunch of British knights, prancing ’round in wooly tights. King Arthur’s men join his quest for the Holy Grail, which is different for everyone.”

Hendrickson: “I think there’s some knights, a quest, French taunters, a flying cow, a killer bunny, a shrubbery, and some lovely dancing and even better singing! Also, swordplay, some even better singing, and a wedding.”

“Monty Python’s Spamalot”

When: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and continues Thursdays though Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 11

Where: Bellingham Theatre Guild, 1600 H St.

Cost: $14 adults, $12 seniors and students, available at Online ticketing and by calling 360-733-1811 from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Details: bellinghamtheatreguild.com

Related stories from Bellingham Herald