Monty Python’s Spamalot leaves audiences laughing

Turner Meeks, ’15, stars in first ever role in full production

Monty Pythons Spamalot leaves audiences laughing

Alexandra Seymour

If you left with a straight face, then you failed to find the Holy Grail.

Washington and Lee University students brought Monty Python’s comedy Spamalot to life last weekend for a packed and laughing audience in Keller Theatre.

“I thought [Spamalot] was just the right mix of irony, humor and history,” said Claudia Kesala, ’18. “The cast was chosen really well and they all had great stage chemistry.”

After three months of rehearsal five days a week, actors were finally able to share their enthusiasm for the show with others.

“We just want[ed] the audience to have fun [with us],” said lead actor Turner Meeks, ’15.

With elaborate costumes, catchy tunes and dancing, it was hard for many audience members not to share in the cast’s energy. Some were even integrated into the show’s finale, when the Holy Grail was discovered under an audience member’s seat.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of dancing in Spamalot, especially the tap solos,” said Jennifer Saccente ’17. “Caroline Hardin [‘15] did an incredible job as Dance Captain.”

The week leading up to opening night, referred to as tech week, was when Meeks said everything really started to come together.

“It’s tiring, but rewarding,” Meeks said. “[And] we’re seeing immediate results. Tech week’s been about putting all the pieces together—integrating the stage crew, the lighting, all the sound cues and working with a live orchestra.”

Aside from one rehearsal, tech week was the first time that the orchestra practiced with the actors. While coordinating the two can be difficult, many pit band members enjoyed the experience.

“This is probably my favorite show because the music is amazing,” said pit band member Maggie Ma, ’18. “It’s pretty much non-stop music the whole show, and I love that.”

To get into character, actors were asked to practice speaking in accents over Christmas break so that it would come to them naturally by opening night. This allowed them to focus on line delivery.

“I think a lot of my personality shows through the character,” Meeks said. “I try to be very big and boisterous because the way I interpret the character is that Arthur likes to be the center of attention.”

Cast members bonded through all of their frequent late night rehearsals, which helped translate into to their interactions on stage.

“It’s such a funny show that it really brings out the best in people,” said Grace Vianney ’16.

Vianney said she thought one of the most rewarding parts of doing this show was getting to know the cast.

Aside from cast members, those credited with shaping the show were director Jemma Alix Levy, music director Josh Harvey ’00, vocal director Jason Widney, and choreographer Matthew Glover.

Spamalot was a first for both Levy and Meeks. This was the first musical Levy had ever directed and was the first full production that Meeks had ever been in.

“My goals were simply to make the show the best it could be, and at the same time to ensure that the people involved had a wonderful time creating something of which they could be proud,” Levy said.

Meeks said he had taken an acting class with Levy and enjoyed it so much that he decided to audition on a whim.

“I’m also a big fan of Monty Python so it was the perfect circumstance for me to audition,” Meeks said.