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'Spamalot' promises to be real Ni!-slapper at Stars

Since we’re all aiming to look on the bright side of life, now’s the perfect time to see “Monty Python's Spamalot” at Stars Theatre Restaurant.

Based on the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the musical comedy is a parody of the Arthurian legend complete with killer rabbits, flying cows and Knights who say "Ni!"

Director Sheryl Cleveland said this type of wild humor is just what audiences need.

"Seriously, the pandemic has been some of the most trying times for people," she said. "You have depression running wild ... I'm a high school teacher and we're getting students reacclimated to some sort of normal life again.

"Something that lets you laugh at inappropriate times — because 'Spamalot' definitely has inappropriate moments — is good. Laughter is great therapy, great medicine for the time we’re in now."

In the show, King Arthur (Ken Burdick), accompanied by his servant Patsy (Jesse Magdaleno), gathers his knights — including Sir Lancelot (John Spitzer), Sir Robin (Kevin McDonald), Sir Galahad (Timothy Armijo) and Sir Bedevere (Matthew Thompson) — before setting out in search of the Holy Grail.

Along the way, they encounter Lady of the Lake (Bethany Rowlee), Prince Herbert (Zachary Gonzalez) and other intriguing characters.

The ensemble includes Campbell Cleveland, Carly Mattern, Yasmin Marcelo, Bret McGlew, Miranda Sanchez, Madison Shuck, Spirit, Callie Stein, Marcus Thompson and Julie Verrell.

Cleveland said she has performers new to Stars and to musical theater in general.

"The youngest is 15 in the show so we have quite a few young'uns in the show and, my gosh, they're good."

She credits the longtime performers with helping offer guidance, including Burdick, who along with playing the king provided vocal direction for the show.

"Ken is masterful when he is working with his students at school and he brings that to the theater," she said of the West High instructor. "We have some young people who have never done musicals and there are learning moments to make them better singers."

"There are lots of really good voices, and they're good voices together. It makes for some wonderful sounds."

The lifelong Monty Python fan said the show, last performed at Stars in 2013, will be a hilarious treat for all.

"It's been eight years so we’re going to have a whole new audience this time. I'm excited to bring that to them."

She said returning to the stage after theaters had been shut down for months feels like a family reunion with those who you haven’t been able to see for a long time.

"We're coming back stronger than ever as a theater, and you have a passion that has been denied for a long time for many of us. To be able to express that again, to entertain again, that’s huge."

Cleveland urges people to buy their tickets early as she thinks this show's four-week run will sell out. And she hopes audiences take away the message of the number "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

"It (the song) seems kind of goofy, and it seems kind of silly, but the message actually is a really good one," she said. "Keeping positivity in your life, looking at the good things instead of the pessimistic things."

"Take away that life can be really good if you just decide it's going to be."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.

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