Before I continue reporting on my European exploits earlier this month, I suggest that you travel to Whiting this weekend for the Northwest Indiana premiere of the outrageously funny "Spamalot" musical that opens Saturday at the Marian Theatre Guild, 1849 Lincoln Ave.
This is one of my favorite musicals and it's based on the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It's the story of King Arthur and his gathering of knights as they're off to find the Holy Grail, with lots of catchy songs in the score.
It originally had its pre-Broadway run in Chicago and I was lucky enough to see it then, with David Hyde Pierce (from "Frasier"), Tim Curry (from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") and Hank Azaria (from "The Simpsons" and "The Birdcage").
During intermission, a friend bought me a pair of coconuts which play an integral part in this absurd musical, and I'm very pleased that they are being used in the Guild's production.
On Broadway, "Spamalot" was honored as Best Musical of the Year along with receiving 13 other Tony Awards. So, as a theater maven, I'm very impressed that our hometown theater is doing the first sanctioned community production in the Calumet Region.
St. John the Baptist Church has had a long theatrical history. A drama group was organized in 1926 when plays were actually performed by parishioners in their native Slovak language at the Slovak Dom. In 1928, they officially named themselves the St. John Drama Club.
By 1936, productions were performed "on the boards" of the Whiting Community Center's 800-seat auditorium.
Even during the war years, when there was a lack of male actors, the group continued to perform, choosing shows with all-female casts. According to their written history, they used cardboard boxes and wrapping paper to build sets to conserve on materials needed for the war effort.
The Guild holds a special place in my heart, since it's where my husband of 40 years and I first met. Many who are involved are second- and third-generation Whiting thespians. As a child, my parents would take me to shows and, with its big proscenium stage, it was as good as Broadway for me.
As for "Monty Python," the TV show first appeared on Chicago's Channel 11 around 1973. Since these were the days before VCR's, Chuck and I would always make sure we were home by 10 p.m. Sunday so we wouldn't miss it. It was fresh, funny, completely bizarre and very, very British. Who knew back then that Python would gain such international popularity, adding movies and a Broadway musical?
"Spamalot" runs at 8:15 p.m. Saturdays, Nov. 2, 9, and 16, with 3 p.m. matinees Sundays, Nov. 3, 10 and 17. Dinner/theater packages are available for Saturday performances. Call the box office at (219) 473-7555 for reservations. Tickets are $12 for students/senior citizens and $15 for adults.
I can guarantee "Spamalot" will be a hilarious "knight" of entertainment.