On a quest for laughs

Rory Chapman/Special to the Herald

Melissa Cheffers and Ammon Swofford perform the “Fish Schlapping Song” in Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” on stage this summer at Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

By Margaret Hedderman
Special to the Herald

Pagosa Springs’ Thingamajig Theatre Co. storms into its summer season with a rip-roaring production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” As the first of four “Spamalot” productions in Colorado this summer, Thingamajig proves that the Broadway spectacular can be condensed to a small stage without losing any of the humor or charm of the original.

First produced in 2005, “Spamalot” is an updated adaptation of the classic 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Written by Eric Idle, John Du Prez and Neil Innes, it includes songs from both “The Holy Grail” and “The Life of Brian,” as well as new songs, scenes and a surprise plot twist or two.

“Eric Idle has done a fabulous job of keeping Python’s irreverent style of storytelling current and the pace of the show quick – there’s almost no downtime in ‘Spamalot.’” said artistic director Tim Moore, who also plays the role of King Arthur in the production.

Moore went all out with “Spamalot,” importing a talented cast from across the country as well as Denver director Pat Payne and the original costumes and props from the London West End production.

“In ‘Spamalot,’ it’s either ‘go big or go home,’ so we went big,” Moore said. “We wanted the best people we could find to really make this season special and start giving our audiences a taste of what’s to come.”

Thingamajig also licensed the original musical recordings and the voice of God (Eric Idle) for the show.

Payne, who has directed several shows at the Pagosa Center for the Arts, makes the organized chaos of “Spamalot” look easy. Under his direction, the actors stay true to the well-known and much-loved characters and performances. For Python fans and newcomers alike, Thingamajig’s “Spamalot” should not be missed.

Changing costumes faster than a European swallow can beat its wings, the actors and ensemble portray multiple characters. Among the many notable performances were Denver native Dustin Hebert as The French Taunter, Jamie Finkenthal of Chicago as the diva Lady of the Lake, and Kurt Brighton (also of Denver) as Prince Herbert’s Father.

The cast will soon be on double duty with the upcoming production of “The Full Monty.” Rehearsals for “Spamalot” and “The Full Monty” began June 1, and the majority of the actors perform in each show.

“People still want Spam, preferably not from the can, and they can see it here at Thingamajig before any other company in Colorado,” Moore said.

“Spamalot” will run through Aug. 11, and “The Full Monty” will open Friday and run through Aug. 4.

margaretyh@gmail.com. Margaret Hedderman is a freelance writer based in Durango.

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