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Monty Python’s Spamalot coming to St Albans stage

PUBLISHED: 12:36 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:22 10 April 2017

Sir Lancelot, played by Ben Fricke, Sir Galahad, played by AJ King, Sir Robin, played by Charlie Harden, Sir Bedevere played by Mike Smith, and Patsy, played by Gareth Edwards, in St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Spamalot

Sir Lancelot, played by Ben Fricke, Sir Galahad, played by AJ King, Sir Robin, played by Charlie Harden, Sir Bedevere played by Mike Smith, and Patsy, played by Gareth Edwards, in St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Spamalot

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Fans of Monty Python should book tickets for an amateur production of musical Spamalot coming to the stage in St Albans.

Ben Fricke and Charlie Harden get in character ahead of St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of SpamalotBen Fricke and Charlie Harden get in character ahead of St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Spamalot

Following the runaway success of its production of Sister Act, the multi-award-winning St Albans Musical Theatre Company returns to The Alban Arena later this month with the wonderfully silly Monty Python musical Spamalot.

Written by Eric Idle and “lovingly ripped off” from the acclaimed 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the original Broadway production won three Tony Awards, including the awards for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, and a Grammy Award.

Its London debut at the Palace Theatre sold out, and delighted the critics.

The Stage wrote: “It is, in short, just about all you could ask from a musical comedy, and only the most dedicated Pythonophobes could resist it.”

Clare Cordell plays the Lady of the Lake in SpamalotClare Cordell plays the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot

The 25-strong SAMTC cast is directed by Sam Gaines, who, coming from a deeply theatrical family, knows a thing or two about putting on a musical.

His own stage debut was in Carousel, at the age of three. He’s been directing locally for eight years and is delighted to be bringing this musical to the St Albans stage.

He said: “You have to get it as close as possible to the original, simply because that’s what people come to see.

“There’s a little bit of wriggle room, but most of the scenes are straight from the movie – far be it from me to mess with the genius of the Pythons!”

Idle’s story juggles the quest for the Holy Grail with spoofs of such Broadway sacred cows as Fiddler on the Roof and The Producers.

Searching for the Holy Grail King Arthur, along with his squire, Patsy, and a selection of hardy knights, set off for France where they run into the dangerous clutches of the Black Knight, who regards the loss of his limbs as no more than an occupational hazard.

And they’re threatened by obstreperous Frenchmen who use flatulence as a weapon of warfare.

But the brave crusaders overcome everything that’s thrown at them, including a killer rabbit, and it all ends happily when Arthur marries the Lady of the Lake.

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Unlike the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot is jam-packed with silly songs to match the action.

The opening number Finland, or the Fisch Schlapping Dance, was created especially for the show along with other original songs such I Am Not Dead Yet, The Song that Goes Like This and The Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened to My Part).

But the one audiences all know, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, lifted from Monty Python’s Life of Brian and slotted in here, is arguably the Pythons’ finest moment.

Stewart Jordan, who plays King Arthur, is well known in local musical theatre, and comes from a solid theatre background – his parents met on the set of The Pirates of Penzance.

Watford-based Clare Cordell plays The Lady of the Lake and, by her own admission, is a singer more than a musical theatre star.

She toured professionally for some years before deciding to concentrate on her singing.

She said: “I love this role – she’s a dramatic version of me. I have to just turn up, be myself and sing.”

Her first album, No Stupid Ideas, which is all her own music, is due to be released at the beginning of June.

Musical director is Trinity College-trained Susana Tierney, who directed recent local productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Pirates of Penzance.

Choreography is by Stefanie Chadburn, her first for SAMTC, although she has performed in several productions, including the award-winning Sister Act.

Poking fun at theatre, whilst revelling in the gaiety of live performance, this show promises to be all-singing, all-dancing silliness.

And when it comes to the rendition of Idle’s immensely famous and catchy Bright Side of Life, you can sing along, happy in the knowledge that, whatever’s going on around us at the moment, you can lose yourself in Spamalot, where British sense of humour is alive and well.

The show runs at The Alban Arena from Tuesday, April 25 to Saturday, April 29.

Evening performances are at 7.45pm, and there’s a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 for restricted view to £19.50.

• To book tickets, visit The Alban Arena website at www.alban-arena.co.uk or call the box office on 01727 844488 for full details.

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