Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spamalot - Meet cast member Patrick Graham


What do you find appealing about your character and this show?
I've been a huge fan of Monty Python since I was very young thanks to my older brother and jumped at the opportunity to portray some of the silliest characters I've ever seen. I really wanted to try my hand at the challenge of creating all these different characters, as the Pythons seemed to do effortlessly. What I love about the musical is that these characters give such a nostalgic feel to the movie, yet expand on each character, surprising the audience in new ways! The anticipation for when people who know the movie, see a familiar character and react, is such a thrill.

What have you learned about yourself in playing all of these characters?
I've learned a lot about creating characters and how important it is to establish certain physicality’s and other traits for scenes. Some of my characters only appear for a short scene and I don’t have a lot time to establish anything, so I have to figure out shortcuts so that the audience knows exactly who I am, even if they haven’t seen the movie. I find myself saying “Who am I now?” many times backstage. I should see a doctor about this.

Being a long time Monty Python Fan, do you have any favorite skits or scenes?
I have a soft spot in my heart for the “Dead Parrot Skit”; it’s just so iconic and hilarious 50 years later. I've gone back and realized that throughout the course of the show, there are an uncountable amount of callbacks and references to the Flying circus in addition to the movie. We may have added a few in ourselves; I can’t wait for diehard fans to catch all the references!!

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
My last production was “Les Miserables” in Reston, which was an extremely easy transition; they have pretty much the same tone. Yet coming from such shows and “Avenue Q” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, I’m right at home in my comedic style. I've also done many ensemble shows and it’s quite similar to those. The ensembles in most shows play multiple roles and have to create different feels for each scene. Having done this a lot prepped me for playing all these roles.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?
I've been acting since I was in elementary school, playing the Emperor in the Emperor’s New Clothes and have done theatre ever since. When I started doing community theatre, I saw a few productions at LTA and couldn't wait to get a chance to work with them. I live/work about an hour away from them, so I wanted to find the right show to commute for and I've certainly found it with Spamalot! 
Monty Python's Spamalot will be on the LTA stage from August 8 - August 23.  Get tickets at www.thelittletheatre.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spamalot - Meet cast member Peter Halverson

What do you find appealing about your characters and this show?
Are you kidding?  I get to re-enact some of the best scenes from the Holy Grail movie ("Huuuuuge...tracts of land"), a comedy classic that my friends and I could repeat practically word for word.  And I get to do it in public, in character, with costumes and props and sets and even a bit of swordplay.  Add the wonderful spoofing of Broadway tropes and cliches (some clever, some subtle, some silly) and you have a spot on description of my ideal musical.

What have you learned about yourself in playing these roles?
I'm a newbie when it comes to acting skills, so it's been an enlightening experience to take these characters that I know so well and add depth and insight.  It's not enough to just parrot the movie, the humor comes from infusing these familiar lines of dialogue with your own spin: timing, intonation, physicality, back story, etc. I doubt I'm ready for "Death of a Salesman" quite yet, but I feel I've learned a lot.

What do you want the audience to experience and take away from this show?
This is a silly show.  A wonderful, fun, hilarious, musical, witty but still ultimately silly show.  My biggest hope is that they have as much fun as we do.  If that silliness carries over after they leave, so much the better.  And always look on the bright side of life!

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
It's one of the more technically complex shows I've done to date.  A bazillion costumes, props, scenery, and special effects.  Backstage during a show is going to be insane.  But that's part of the fun!  Spamalot is also the first show where I'm older than most of the cast (I think I have Carla beat on that).  Most of the cast were not born until 20 years after the Holy Grail movie was released and some had never even see it at all.  It's been interesting to watch them discover this material with a completely fresh perspective.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theater?  How did you get involved with LTA?
I only got active in community theater about 5 years ago.  I'd been performing as a singer and musician since junior high school (vocal ensembles, opera, recitals, etc.) but aside from a few revue style productions, I hadn't delved into the dramatic side.  I had just left one vocal ensemble and was casting about for something else to do with a friend suggested I try out for a show (which Wade Corder also directed, as it happens).  I fell in love with the genre and have been involved ever since.  This is my first time performing with LTA.  I've done tech work on other shows here (mostly lighting related).  With LTA's lengthy performance runs, I was waiting for a show I could really love before committing that much time and energy.  Spamalot is that show and I'm thrilled to be part of it!

Monty Python's Spamalot will be on the LTA stage from August 8 - August 23.  Get tickets at www.thelittletheatre.com

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spamalot - Meet cast member Christy Fischer

What do you find appealing about your character and this show?
What I love about being a female ensemble member in Spamalot is that every time I'm onstage, I get to be a different character.  At one moment I'm a Vegas Showgirl and in the next I'm a Knight of Ni.  That kind of rapid change of characters is both a challenge and incredibly fun.  Another element of Spamalot that I love is how it is both hysterically funny and heartwarming throughout.  It's the kind of show that audiences everywhere can sit back and find the joy in for a few hours.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
The last show I worked on was an incredibly dramatic new musical about the American Revolution.  To go from that show to Spamalot has been a huge adjustment for me.  I am typically cast in darker musicals and it's been a long time since I was in a show as silly and comical as Spamalot.  It's been a really nice change to experience working on a show that is guaranteed to get some laughs.  Beyond just the change in genre, I don't often get the chance to be in a show as dance heavy as Spamalot is.  It's been so much fun to be in an ensemble where I get to dance my way through the show every night.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre?  How did you get involved with LTA?
I started acting through school productions probably around the age of 12.  I was bit by the bug and devoted most of high school to being in shows and taking voice lessons.  Now I am a rising junior Musical Theatre major at James Madison University.  As my fellow cast members of Spamalot can attest, I am pretty shy when I meet new people.  The one place I have always felt safe to come out of my shell is onstage.  Theatre has been the consistent home where I can be myself and feel like I am part of something special.  I have found a loving and supportive theatre home at JMU and I am so pleased to have found the same thing at LTA.

Monty Python's Spamalot will be on the LTA stage from August 8 - August 23.  Get tickets at www.thelittletheatre.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spamalot - Meet cast member Stephanie Gaia Chu


What do you find appealing about your character and this show?
All year I have been looking forward to singing and dancing, and I am excited to spend my summer doing so! My favorite part about community theater is that you become part of a tight-knit family, and I couldn’t be happier with this wonderful cast and production team. 

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of “Female Ensemble”?
I have learned that practice makes perfect. I have not had extensive dance training or vocal lessons, so it was rather intimidating being with a group of such talented and knowledgeable people. With their help and a lot of hard work, I am so proud that I can keep up! 

What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show?
Always look on the bright side of life! This show is just so much fun, and is absolutely infectious. I am confident that everyone will leave smiling.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
The Little Theatre of Alexandria is such a great theater to work with. The level of professionalism is so refreshing, and it shows in the product. The creative team is so inspiring, the cast extremely talented, and everyone’s dedication and enthusiasm pushes me harder. 

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?
I started participating in theater in high school and studied theatrical lighting design in college. I love to teach youth theater, and have worked as a stage designer and technician in over 150 theater, dance, and music concerts. After college, I started performing once again and found that I loved that as just as much! This is my second show with LTA — the first was "Avenue Q" last summer as the ever hysterical, “Christmas Eve.” I’m so excited to share all that this amazing team has been working on!

Monty Python's Spamalot will be on the LTA stage from August 8 - August 23.  Get tickets at www.thelittletheatre.com


Spamalot - Meet Cast Member Drew Holcombe



What do you find appealing about your character and this show?
Spamalot is an absolutely unbelievable show. With a basis like Monty Python, people come in expecting to see their favorite scenes from the movie, but they also don’t want a carbon copy. Spamalot rides that line perfectly – some scenes are almost exactly the same as in the film, but there are also new characters and plot twists that help it stand on its own two feet, so you definitely don’t need to have seen the movie to understand the show.

Having been a fan on the show for years, I’m beyond excited that I’ve been given the opportunity to experience it on the other side of the fourth wall! My favorite part of being in this ensemble is that we get to completely change characters every time we’re on stage – the ensemble gets to play the silly residents of Camelot, the dreary monks, and everything in between. As a result of this, we get to explore different styles of singing and dance, something not offered in most musicals, which aren’t usually as fluctuating. After taking a long hiatus from musical ensembles, I’m glad I get to experience being a part of one in a show like Spamalot that makes it a challenging and rewarding experience.

What have you learned about yourself being in this ensemble?
More than anything, I think this production has broken down a lot of my dancing barriers. I came into this show with a whopping one semester of ballet under my belt, so I definitely expected the choreography to be a struggle. But once we started working on the first couple numbers, I realized that my own convictions of not being a dancer were holding me back far more than my lack of experience. I definitely have had to put in a lot of effort to make everything happen (especially the tap!), but I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my own abilities that I didn’t have before.

What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show?
The thing I love about comedies is that people don’t see them expecting to walk out with a moral or a new way to look at life. They expect mindless entertainment, and in a lot of ways,that’s what you get. But the side effect of silly shows like Spamalot is that you get to create this incredible connection between everyone in the room as everyone laughs their butts off together. There’s a lot of hostility in the world today, so I think it’s important that we have shows like Spamalot to diffuse the tension and bring us together.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
Considering my background is almost entirely in educational theatre, this show is extremely different from everything I’ve done before. Working with a cast of adults is a new experience, though age definitely hasn’t been the barrier I expected it to be. Being the youngest member of the cast was intimidating at first, but I’m incredible lucky to work withamazing people who help me remember that I’m a welcome part of this cast. This will also be the first time I get to perform for multiple weeks – the most performances I’ve had in a previous show is just six. I’m excited to learn how to keep my energy up throughout the extended run.

I also haven’t been in a musical ensemble since the first musical I was in, which was Fiddler on the Roof at West Springfield High School, over four years ago. Now that I’m used to having speaking roles, being in the ensemble has presented me with a lot of challenges. You have to be just as engaging as always, but it’s hard to do when you don’t get to make many of your own acting or vocal choices for the sake of cleanliness. I’m thrilled that I get to be a part of this show and learn this other side of music theatre!

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?
I’ve been involved in theatre and music since I was little, but I didn’t really become invested in performing until high school. That’s when I realized that, by breaking down the barriers of film and bringing the audience and performers together, theatre can connect people in a powerful and profound way. As soon as I realized the power of those connections, I knew I had to keep performing for the rest of my life.

As for this production, I’ve been researching summer performing opportunities throughout my spring semester. Before LTA’s season was announced, I saw that the dates of the show would work with my schedule, so I made a note to audition. When I found out the show would be Spamalot, I instantly knew it would be a perfect fit for me. I’m thrilled to be a part of this production and can’t wait to share it with an audience!

Monty Python's Spamalot will be on the LTA stage from August 8 - August 23.  Get tickets at www.thelittletheatre.com