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The Holy Grail of Musicals

Posted 11/08/2018 by Mia Harsh

TJ students created a wonderful set for the upcoming musical Spamalot. photo by Mia Harsh

Students at Thomas Jefferson High School gear up to perform the classic musical comedy Spamalot.

TJ is putting on a new production which is sure to bring a smile to the faces of both kids and parents alike. All those who love the classic British comedy group Monty Python will surely enjoy Spamalot, a live musical adaptation of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The show has been put together by TJ students, with choir instructor Tambyr Reed as the director, and will run November 8th, 9th, and 10th at 7:00 p.m..

The story follows the tale of King Arthur (played by senior Milan Bartelt) and the Knights of the Round Table as they depart on their quest to find the Holy Grail. On their journey, they encounter characters such as the Lady of the Lake (played by senior Madeleine Abram) and Tim the Enchanter (played by junior Jake Harrison). The play is a hilarious take on the classic story of Camelot, and the students have worked tirelessly to make it as hysterical and engaging as possible. Audience members can expect the show to largely differ from productions they have seen previously at TJ.  “I wanted something that was going to be over-the-top, fun, and very fairy tale like. TJ really hasn’t seen the likes of this because we have performed more dramatic plays recently, so I expect that the audience will find this show to be colorful, beautiful, and funny,” expressed Reed.

Putting on a production of this level is incredibly difficult, but TJ Theatre has taken on the task with a wonderful attitude. The process began with the selection of the show, which was done by Reed in April of this year. This involved taking into account the skills and talents of the students at TJ, as well as what will make the prospective audience the most engaged. Once that was done, auditions were held. Over the course of three days, students were asked to prepare a monologue and a song, in addition to learning a pre-choreographed dance. For those interested in being part of the technical (tech) crew for the show, individuals were interviewed by both of the tech leads, senior Samuel Chappell and junior AJ Domagala, as well as Reed. Actors and tech were required to submit two letters of recommendation along with their auditions. The special effects and makeup crew auditioned by applying makeup to a model. They were assessed on their ability to apply makeup, take instruction and criticism, and their ability to adjust for the stage and its lighting. Since auditions were held during the spring, eighth grade students from local middle schools which feed into TJ were notified and allowed to opportunity the audition as well. Afterwards, students were each assigned to a role and the rehearsal process began.

Actors were expected to memorize their lines over the summer so that practices could be focused on the production itself. Once school was in session, the cast began rehearsals while tech worked on the set, lighting, and sound. The makeup crew began their conceptual designs for all characters, while the pit orchestra practiced the songs they need to play for the show. This process continued every day after school, with additional time being dedicated to building the set on Saturdays.

This production is the result of an incredible amount of dedication and care, which will surely show on stage. As Reed illustrated, “The cast and crew are all counting on each other to do what they need to do for this show. They have a lot of leadership and pride in the show since they are presenting themselves to the audience.” Everyone is excited for this year’s musical and hope that their friends, family, and teachers are excited too. Students can buy their tickets from any member of the cast and crew, Reed, or at the door. Let the hilarity commence!