They ham a lot, jam a lot, use their diaphragm a lot, and, in a small space, 25 actors cram a lot.
The Newport Children’s Theatre will present a scaled-down version of Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” the Tony Award-winning spoof on “Camelot,” May 19-20 at the Casino Theatre.
Only then can you see a surly Scottish guardian in a ram-horned helmet warn about killer bunnies, or horse hooves rendered by clacking coconut shells, two-steps, spears, showgirls, wooden rabbits, spinning dice, monks wooing nuns, and the Royal Hand Grenade.
Tara O’Hare Gnolfo, the artistic director, must handle all those explosions, along with other Gaelic, French and Scottish bits of controlled chaos. As the K-nig-its (knights) roll their “r’s,” be prepared to roll in the aisles.
“This show is not the type of show I like to do or traditionally would do; I am very much classical musical theater,” said Gnolfo. “But this group are such clowns, and they have wanted to do contemporary musicals for a long time. They have been bugging me about it.
“There are . . . so many featured roles that can highlight kids who don’t normally get to perform in the usual theater production, and a lot of little highlights where they have their moments. They are getting to show their personality in this one.”
Did I mention the Holy Grail? Or divine intervention?
NCT won’t be performing all the songs (some not appropriate for children), but gems like “Knights of the Round Table,” “Find Your Grail,” “Run Away!” (from insulting French types at the castle walls) and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” will be heard.
The stunning Lady of the Lake who scats, is played with outrageous falsetto glee by Brennan Mahoney, who is so over-the-top in the role that he looks like he simultaneously channeled and mugged Cleopatra.
In rehearsal, the cast of 25 and their energized dance numbers prompts the director to say things like, “Pam, why do you still have your coconuts? Who gave you your dice? It’s only funny if you sell the romance [with the monk]. If nothing else, smile! You look like you are scared of the monk! You are supposed to be in love with the monk! No concerns in Camelot! You should be so happy you are dancing around in Camelot! Your smiles cannot be big enough!”