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Stony Point Players to present ‘Spamalot’ June 27-30

By James Grob,

Good citizens of Charles City, it’s time to start honing your British accents.

You just might get a chance to use them on stage this summer.

Charles City’s own Stony Point Players community theater group will present Monty Python’s “Spamalot” as its summer production.

Stony Point Players to present ‘Spamalot’ June 27-30
The Stony Point Players will present the musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot” this summer.

“I am very excited,” said Janeice Bergland, who will direct the show. “I know of some people who have already told me they’re going to audition who are extremely gifted and I know are going to be great.”

Production dates are Thursday through Sunday, June 27-30, at the North Grand Building in Charles City.

“A lot of people encouraged me to do ‘Spamalot,’” Bergland said. “I’ve never directed it, or even seen a complete live production of it, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that it’s really appealing.”

Bergland said the show features ambitious and intricate song and dance numbers and “funny, funny dialogue” full of dark humor, slapstick comedy and British colloquialisms.

“Of course, Monty Python is hilarious,” she said.

“Spamalot,” a musical comedy, is adapted from the Monty Python comedy troupe’s 1975 film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Like the motion picture, the stage version is a highly irreverent parody of the legend of King Arthur.

The original Broadway production in 2005 received 14 Tony Award nominations and won in three categories, including best musical.

Auditions for the show are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 25-26, and again at noon Sunday, April 28, all at the Charles City High School vocal music room. These are open auditions, and previous experience is not required.

“That’s the great thing about community theater,” Bergland said. “Everyone is welcome.”

Actors, singers and dancers are all needed. “Spamalot” has 20 speaking parts, most of which sing as well, plus a chorus that includes adults and teens.

“Feel free to employ your best British accent,” Bergland said.

Unlike last summer’s Stony Point Players production of “The Wizard of Oz,” this year’s musical will not have children in the cast. “Spamalot” contains more adult-oriented humor, Bergland said, and the cast will be made up of people from high-school age up to more seasoned citizen actors.

Men will be needed, as it is a male-heavy cast with only a couple more prominent female roles, although there are a lot of women needed in the chorus, and Bergland said that there are a lot of singing and dancing roles for women.

“In the directions from the company, it suggest ways to include more females,” Bergland said. “There is a lot of flexibility with the cast size, depending on the turnout numbers at casting call, and there are several chorus numbers that everybody can sing in.”

Bergland said that actors who audition will receive scripts from the show that they can read, and they will likely be asked to sing something from the show.

“If they want to bring their own music in, that’s fine — whether it’s just a simple song or a hymn or whatever,” she said.

Bergland also said that actors would likely be asked to perform “a few dance steps.”

There could be callbacks for lead roles. If they get a part, cast members should expect an average of three or more rehearsals per week, starting on May 6 and continuing through the production.

“We’re also open to people who maybe don’t want to be on stage but would like to help in other ways — backstage, sets, lights, sound, publicity,” Bergland said.

Bergland taught in Charles City for 28 years and directed several shows at the high school and middle school. She also directed several local community productions and directed “The Music Man” in Mason City in 2001.

Bergland is a longtime local choir director and artist who was inducted into Charles City Fine Arts Hall of Fame two years ago. She is an experienced stage designer, private voice teacher and choir director, painter and a signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society.

Joining Bergland as the musical director for “Spamalot” will be Derek Sturtevant, CCHS vocal music director, who was the musical director for “The Wizard of Oz” last summer. Bergland said that Sturtevant is already in the process of lining up his musicians for the show.

“We’re getting the best,” Bergland said. “Working with Derek, you can’t help but be excited, because he’s excited all the time about everything we’re doing.”

Bergland has been lining up her production team as well. She said she already has commitments from Amy Wolfe as a choreographer, Stacey Oleson as stage manager, Linda Hughes on costumes and Chris Cleveland on piano accompaniment.

The production last summer was the first production by the Stony Point Players in more than five years.

The local community theater group first began giving performances in the 1960s. Named for Stony Point Road, the location of a barn where the group performed in 1968, the Stony Point Players performed in a small auditorium above First Security Bank before the 1968 tornado.

For the better part of four decades, the players were an important facet of the community’s culture, and performed two or more shows a year at various venues throughout town.

After the successful production last year, the Stony Point Players restructured the board of directors, came up with new goals and drew up a new calendar. The short-term plan is to have one show each summer for the next few summers, then look to grow into other areas beyond that.

“We decided that as we are rebuilding, let’s narrow our focus. Have one show this summer, then one next summer, where that’s the one thing that the Stony Point Players does,” said Michelle Grob, president of the theater group.

“We want to concentrate our energy on bringing really quality community theater to Charles City, and having that same sense of ownership with the entire community,” she said.