“You won’t believe what we do with our coconuts!” laughs Gary J. Myers.
Indeed, that’s one of many surprises awaiting the audience at Monty Python’s Spamalot, directed by Gary, coming to the Haymarket in Basingstoke from 16-20 May.
Gary’s been part of the theatre scene in Basingstoke for three decades, as a performer with local groups BATS and BAOS, and more recently a constant presence in the rehearsal room as Assistant Director on shows such as Sister Act, Grease and The Full Monty. He trained professionally at Guildford School of Acting, and has appeared in shows in the West End and on tour.
So Gary brings a wealth of experience to Spamalot – the first show he’s directed and choreographed for BATS.
“I just love the songs and the comedy, there’s so much for the company to get their teeth into,” enthuses Gary. “It’s not just a celebration of Monty Python, it also sends up a whole host of musicals in a really fun, affectionate way.”
“I pitched Spamalot to BATS as a show with something for everyone. In the original Broadway production, one actor would play several roles, but I’ve had the luxury of sharing out the parts among a wider pool of people. And I’ve been encouraging everyone to throw in their own ideas to make the show even funnier. There’s been a lot of laughter in the rehearsal room!”
This inventiveness also stretches to the special costumes and props being made, which are keeping the team behind the scenes very busy. There aren’t many musicals which feature killer rabbits, catapulting cows, fake heads, and a knight who loses his arms and legs but still manages to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.
“Everyone is working very hard,” says Gary. “I’ve been quite specific about what I want, and I’m really grateful that Jude on costumes, and Marie, Jo, Mike and Colin on props are prepared to meet the challenge! I also appreciate Debbie Hemmings and Nick Brannam’s help with creating the choreography.”
You’ll see their work in the fantastic song and dance routines that parody everything from Phantom of the Opera to a Las Vegas floor show – all adding up to a show that indeed has “something for everyone.”
And you won’t believe what they do with their coconuts!
Monty Python’s Spamalot runs at the Haymarket, Basingstoke from Tuesday 16 - Saturday 20 May. Performances at 7.30pm plus a 2.30pm show on the Saturday.
Tickets at: www.anvilarts.org.uk or 01256 844244.