Producing a comedy is serious business – something the cast of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s Spamalot knows well.
I think the key to comedy is to take it seriously, actor Scott Rumage says. Let the characters and the character’s work drive where the comedy is.
Known as the musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot brings the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to Arts United Center on Saturday.
Rumage, who will play the unwavering King Arthur on a quest from God, says he loves performing in comedies and couldn’t imagine turning this show down.
One of my favorite things is to make people laugh. It brings a great joy to me as an actor, he says. To hear the audience laughing and enjoying the show, it’s a lot of fun.
The Tony Award-winning musical is written by Eric Idle, one of the original members of Monty Python, the late-1960s British sketch comedy troupe.
Doug King, Civic Theatre director and choreographer, says fans of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV show and Holy Grail will see familiar scenes with the addition of musical numbers, including a tap dance scene.
This one is an outrageous comedy and a lot fun. On top of that, it brings something sentimental to a lot of people, especially, for anyone who watched Monty Python,’ he says. As soon as you sit down, you start hearing the old skits that take you back right away.
King, a New Haven native, grew up performing for Civic Theatre. He was a part of the national touring production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1992 starring Donny Osmond. He has also worked with Indianapolis’ Beef and Boards Dinner Theater as a director, actor and choreographer.
For King, taking the helm as director and choreographer makes his production cohesive.
I love it actually. I don’t think I’m a control person, or at least that’s what I tell myself, he says. I think it works for the show when the styles are completely together. If you’re working with a director, you have to make sure your style fits to what he wants. It’s just easier to do it all because then you know you’re going to match.
King said he wanted to include a few things from the Holy Grail film that he says were missing from the musical. He also says the show has transformed as the cast prepares for the production. He was interested in finding actors who would be able to keep up with the comedic timing of the material.
Comedy is really hard. You can’t just throw it out there. If (actors) don’t have a certain rhythm for it, then you can’t go very far with it, he says. I looked for character people that could perform multiple parts and dialogue with accents. From there, I could teach them to dance as much I can.
Rumage says the audiences will enjoy what the cast will deliver.
The timing is certainly everything, and we have a cast that understands that, he says. It’s absolutely fantastic to have people who really get the show.
So what should the audience expect to take away from this show? Well, King says it certainly won’t be Shakespeare.
It’s corny musical theater, but it’s corny at its best, he says. It’s just great dumb fun, and I mean that endearingly.