Wednesday, Jul 03 2013 04:55 PM

Monty in the Middle Ages

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    By Photo by Peter Beckman

    King Arthur and his knights go riding off seeking the Holy Grail in the Stars Theatre Restaurant’s production of “Spamalot,” which Californian contributing columnist Camille Gavin named as one of the best local plays of 2013. From left: Sir Robin (Kevin McDonald), Sir Galahad (Ken Burdick), King Arthur (Bob Anderson), Sir Bedevere (Coulter Allison), Patsy, the faithful servant (Shay Burke), and Sir Lancelot (Derreck Reed).

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    Camelot turns out to be much like Las Vegas with chorus girls as well as a singing and dancing nun (played by Kelci Lowry) in "Spamalot," opening Friday at Stars Theatre Restaurant.

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    Mistaking “Finland"for “England," the ensemble, led by Colter Allison, starts the show with a rousing Finnish “Fish Slapping Song" in "Spamalot," opening Friday at Stars Theatre Restaurant.

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    The “Laker Girls," aka the handmaidens of the Lady of the Lake, in Stars Theatre Restaurant’s production of "Spamalot." From left: Bethany Rowlee, Alex Burdick, Liz Borud, Kelci Lowry and Lauren Nesbitt.

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    Sir Galahad (Ken Burdick) and King Arthur (Bob Anderson) dance a jig at the sight of a giant can of Spam, carried by Zach Gonzalez, in "Spamalot," opening Friday at Stars Theatre Restaurant.

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BY MIRANDA WHITWORTH Contributing writer

No word on whether Spam will be on the menu this weekend, but the mystery meat will take center stage at Stars Theatre Restaurant for an ambitious production of "Spamalot," the 2005 Tony Award-winning musical based on the beloved classic film comedy, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

And though that's great news for fans of the legendary British comedy troupe, even non-Python junkies are in for a laugh, said director Brian Sivesind.

Related Info

'Spamalot'

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m Sunday

Where: Stars Theater Restaurant, 1931 Chester Ave.

Admission: Dinner/show $54-$59, $38 for show only; student dinner/show $39, $23 for show only.

Information: 325-6100

"I really wanted to remain true to the dry humor and the jokes that are the core of Monty Python. The musical itself does a great job at catering to the audience, anyone can enjoy it. It's funny in and of itself."

Monty Python has been entertaining audiences for decades with a volume of work that includes television, film, comedy albums and stage shows. The team first found success in 1969 with the BBC sketch comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus." The troupe's first feature film, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," turned the beloved Arthurian legend on its head as it sent King Arthur skipping across the English countryside with his trusty servant Patsy, not on horseback but prancing on foot in time to the clapping of coconut shells. The musical adaptation, "Spamalot," stays true to the absurd retelling of the legend.

Arthur (Bob Anderson) is able to assemble a band of knights, including Lancelot (Dereck Reed), Sir Robin (Kevin McDonald) and Galahad (Ken Burdick) to help in his search for the Holy Grail. Their path is fraught with adversaries, like obscenity-spewing French guards, a sword-wielding Black Knight and a killer rabbit known for gnawing the heads off those who dare cross its path. Love is found along the way, thanks to the Lady of the Lake (Rosie Ayala) and the helpless prince Herbert (Zachary Gonzalez).

Transforming the downtown Bakersfield theatrical venue into a backdrop for legendary feats and a Las Vegas-style Camelot was no easy task. Sivesind said set designer Greg Manci has been toiling for the last month to make the myth come alive.

"He was working in the workshop before the last show closed trying to get everything ready. The huge rabbit, the big production numbers and the lighting that takes place is more work than one man can do. But he's doing it all himself. We can't compete with some of the effects of major Broadway shows, but I think we have done a nice job of telling the story without spending $100,000."

"Spamalot" is just one among many large-scale productions slated for this season. Sivesind said when it comes to making it work, adaptability and creativity will be key.

"We have got to envision the show for their space; it's not the biggest thing Stars has done but it is extremely challenging. It's going to be one of the most successful shows, just as far as the audience, because just so many people know it. Plus, the show is just fun; anybody is going to come and have a good time."

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