By Adam Gruenewald
Central High School students are welcoming the public to a night of comedy with the “Monty Python Sketch-a-thon” at 7 p.m. this Saturday, May 20.
The 45-minute one-act, directed by senior Tori Stacken, features a few highlighted sketches and skits of Monty Python, the British surreal comedy group who created their sketch comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” which first aired on the BBC in 1969. A total of 45 episodes were made, which spawned the classic comedic 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Stacken said the idea for the one-act started in October when she watched the 1975 film at a friend’s house.
“Every event I went to after that everyone was like ‘let’s watch Monty Python’” said Stacken. “I really enjoyed it so I figured I might as well do it for a senior-directed.”
Stacken wound up putting together a selection of sketches that flow together without breaks inbetween.
That idea certainly works because of stage manager and junior Taylor Karstens-Breitzman, who is heavily involved given the frequent prop and costume changes in a limited set.
“I’m definitely going to try to incorporate some of the transitions into scenes themselves,” said Karstens-Breitzman, who has been a stage manager for every play since her freshman year. “As scenes are going on, in a different part of the stage we’ll be doing transitions more incorporated into the play itself.”
Karstens-Breitzman said she was up to the challenge and worked with Stacken to visualize the transitions.
“You can just kind of picture where all the props are and where people will be on stage and where it would be easiest for props to come in,” she said, adding that a collapsible bridge is among the highlighted props.
Certainly familiar with Monty Python, Karstens-Breitzman said she
“It’s different reading the script versus actually seeing people perform, it’s so much funnier,” she said. “It’s so much funnier to see people perform with the physical comedy in there and the correct delivery.”
To master the comedic timing, auditions and the first week of rehearsals for the play were held in March just prior to spring break, with rehearsals ramping up right after.
As a senior, Stacken said she jumped at the opportunity to direct “Monty Python Sketch-a-thon.”
“Every show that I’ve done it’s gotten to the point where I started mentally casting people and different things,” she said. “I just wanted to give it a shot.”
Certainly a young 13-member cast with several eighth-graders, among the principal actors are senior Madi Kling and junior Steven Dammann.
“They are really fun to work with,” said Stacken of her peers. “They are amazing actors that are really dedicated and great.”
Looking ahead, Stacken plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth where she plans to major in communications science and disorders to pursue a career as a speech therapist, potentially in a nursing home or a school.
Dammann, who plays most of the roles portrayed by actor John Cleese including Lancelot in “The Holy Grail,” was eager to take on an expanded role after several smaller roles in other plays.
“The cast is crazy,” he said, delighting in the comedy. “There have been moments where we crack up laughing at the jokes so it’s going to be interesting because we have to try to not laugh at our own jokes on stage.”
Central students will perform the senior directed one-act “Monty Python Sketch-a-thon” at 7 p.m. this Saturday, May 20.
Free will donations will be accepted for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.
In addition, area actors and crew are also gearing up for the CentreStage Theater production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,”based on the book by Ian Fleming and the 1968 British Dick Van Dyke film.
Auditions for people of all ages will be held 6 to 9 p.m. on June 8 and 9 and noon to 3 p.m. on June 10. Regular rehearsals will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and showdates are at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 to 19. Interested cast and crew members should contact Brian Isles at 952-467-7135 or at [email protected]
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.