MELANIE MINTY: Surrey grad brings bright side of life to ‘Spamalot’

MELANIE MINTY: Surrey grad brings bright side of life to 'Spamalot'

SURREY — And now for something completely different. Wasn’t that line always used in the opening of Monty Python’s Flying Circus? You know, that irreverent, farcical, some-people-foundfunny television show that went off the air in 1974. Well, you can cancel the TV show, but the legacy of lunacy shall live on forever. Or so it seems.

The Arts Club Theatre Company, now in its 50th year of presenting professional theatre to Vancouver audiences, is continuing the quest for the Holy Grail with the musical, Spamalot. This show, based on the movie by the same name, was conceived by Eric Idle (an idol of this genre) and runs at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until June 29. Phone the box office for tickets, 604-687-1644.

I must admit that I am not a big fan of farce, but Spamalot is iconic. And the director is Dean Paul Gibson, a graduate of Earl Marriott Secondary in Surrey. DPG’s first encounter with musicals was in high school, and now he is an in-demand director. I tried to interview him once, but he was so busy gabbing and schmoozing that it was difficult to get much in edgewise. I told him I could always make it up. And he was good with that. Gotta love this guy.

"This show has all the ingredients to take you on a funny journey and send you out of the theatre humming a little something about the bright side of life," he said.

Well, so Spamalot will make you laugh a lot. Be prepared for parodies of the King Arthur legends and well-tread Broadway theatrical conventions. Something completely different.

British actor John Cleese, was, of course, part of the Python cast and creation. He is also known for the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers. Same brand of humour, but different setting. Last theatre season, New Westminster’s Vagabond Players presented a live performance based on segments from this popular TV series. Apparently, many fans were unable to get tickets, so Vagabond presents three new episodes as its final production of the 2013-2014 season.

Again, just like Spamalot, laughter is guaranteed. Well, running a hotel is never easy, but with a socially clueless owner, a drunk chef, falling moose heads, aborted fire drills and a hapless Spanish waiter, chaos seems inevitable. The cast includes Ryan J. Johnson as Basil, Nancy Ebert as Sybil, William Valenzuela as Manuel, Ally Schuurman as Polly and a host of stellar performers playing the various guests. Good time to make reservations, at 604-521-0412. The show runs until June 21 at Bernie Legge Theatre, in Queens Park. Don’t blame me if you don’t get tickets in time. This is good advance notice.

Had a thought here: If Dean Paul Gibson discovered the joys of theatre in high school, maybe we should have a look at what is happening in our local schools. Yep, checked it out. Elgin Park is definitely doing something different. They are putting a swimming pool on stage for their upcoming production of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, a retelling of Ovid’s classical myths.

Interim drama teacher Sheena Johnson tells the story: "We are also breaking out of proscenium theatre and putting the audience on either side of the actors to create an alley theatre space. Major characters include Zeus, Hades, Aphrodite, and Phoebus Apollo. The script uses both elevated language from Ovid’s epic poetry as well as a modern narrative style, to bring these myths to life. Of course the costumes have been pretty fun to do as well."

This show runs from May 21 to 23. Tickets are studentpriced at $10; for details, phone the Elgin Park office at 604-538-6678.

While we are on the topic of something completely different: West Coast Tap Dance Collective presents its 12th annual International Tap Dance Day showcase on May 24 at Massey Theatre in New Westminster, 7:30 p.m. start. For only $25, you get a fabulous showcase of tap dancing that not includes not only internationally known professionals, but a sampling of local dance schools as well. Representing Surrey this year are Steel School of Irish Dance, Dance West and Dance Trance.

The collective is something different in its own right. It was formed 12 years ago to promote and encourage the art of tap dancing. Education is one of the mandates for the collective, and each year at this showcase there is an honoree – someone who has contributed significantly to Canadian tap dance. This year, the honoree is Peggy Peet, a teacher who has shared her love of dance and tap dance with thousands of dance students in this area. You might be one of them. Go see this show. Phone the Massey box office, 604-521-5050.

Do something different.