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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

From Britain to Broadway

Whether King Arthur’s legendary reign can be traced to divine providence or a “farcical aquatic ceremony,” few could have predicted the chivalric ruler of British lore would have danced himself onto the Broadway stage, with his celebrated Knights of the Round Table providing backup. SPAMALOT, the Tony Award-winning production “lovingly ripped off” from the well-quoted film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is charging into College Station — coconuts in tow — at 7:30 p.m. today and Wednesday in Rudder Theatre to prove that the citizens of Camelot can do a lot more than simply joust. They sing, dance and jest, too. Proud of its decidedly inaccurate retelling of the classic tale, SPAMALOT includes the usual crew of slightly confused, armor-clad heroes as well as killer rabbits, a flying cow, show girls and exaggeratingly stereotyped Frenchmen. Jacob L. Smith, who plays the role of Sir Dennis Galahad the Dashingly Handsome, shares his experiences with the tongue-in-cheek musical parody.
Q: How would you describe your character, Sir Galahad?
A: Galahad in SPAMALOT is very into himself and very much about how he looks. He’s a very vain character. He starts out as Dennis, one of the most intelligent people, until he becomes Sir Galahad and suddenly he becomes the good-looking one and likes to take advantage of that.
Q: How would you say SPAMALOT incorporates elements of the traditional folklore?
A: The Lady of the Lake and a couple of the characters, but for the most part, it’s very loosely based. It’s more the concept of looking for the Grail and how Arthur became king, while the knights aren’t exactly true to the Arthurian legend.
Q: In what ways does the musical fully depart from the Monty Python film and come into its own artistically?
A: Most of that would have to be with the actual music itself. The scenes we do for the most part are really true to the film. Some are almost verbatim from The Holy Grail. Others Rebecca Bennett The Battalion are from other Monty Python things, other skits. The music really adds to the material and makes it something.
Q: As for diehard fans of the film, do you think they will be pleased with the musical version?
A: Oh, definitely. Python fans love SPAMALOT. The music itself just adds to the material. It’s always nice to have Python fans; we like when they’re out there because they see things, things that other people wouldn’t notice. They always add an extra level of energy to the show for us.
Q: What is your favorite song to perform in the show, and why?
A: They’re all really fun. I don’t get to do all of them though. My favorite one to perform would have to be the duet that goes with the Lady of the Lake, “The Song That Goes Like This.” I like to watch “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.”
Q: Considering the name of the show, how prominent of a role does SPAM play in the musical? Does it at least make an appearance?
A: SPAM actually pops up here and there, and we do reference it a couple of times and make a few cracks about it.
Q: I read about the flying cow used in the production, do you have a favorite prop item used in the show?
A: The cow is definitely up there. Also, the cast refers to her as “Sushi,” just because that’s what we call her. She’s always an adventure because we never know exactly how she’s going to fly, but it’s always interesting. There are also fur poodles, and I get to sword fight later with a slice of French bread. It’s ridiculous, but fun for us.
Q: Do you ever struggle to keep from laughing on stage?
A: For the characters, it’s not a comedy, it’s a drama. But for me, I have to keep myself together every night because everyone in the cast is so funny. It’s hard not to crack up on stage. There’s been a couple of times when something unexpected happened. I’m hard to crack on stage, but there’s been times I’ve had to turn away and hide it because it’s just so funny.
Q: Does the cast sometimes incorporate improvisation into a performance?
A: Yes, there’s so many props and technical things, and things that don’t always go as smoothly as I’d like because there’s so much going on. We just have to come up with ways to cover for it. At one point, we were performing the show and the wooden rabbit had trouble exiting the stage. So Arthur called us over and we crept off stage and then came back on after the rabbit left. The audience loved it. It seems kind of small, but at the time, it seems really big. So we just kind of have to think up things like that on our feet.
Q: I know your educational background is in musical theatre performance. Was it challenging for you personally to adapt to such a comedic role?
A: It’s nice that the show ties together so well. The music itself is funny. To see me dance is funny because I’m not a dancer. It keeps you in that mode of comedy.
Q: What do you think college students would enjoy about the show?
A: College audiences are definitely our best audiences. You get Python fans, people that just like theatre, people completely new to theatre … college students just love the theatre. They make it so much more fun for us.
Q: Any closing comments on the production?
A: It’s just a laugh and a great show. I can honestly say that if you watch the show, you’re going to have a blast. And I think that’s one of the best things.

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