Get to know our talented cast and production team.
Monty Python's SPAMALOT, performed by Free Rain Theatre Company is on at The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre from Tues 12 September til Sunday 24 September 2023.
From the Producer
What a joy it is to bring Spamalot to the stage at The Q. We all need to have a rollicking good time and be highly entertained by such a clever script with great music, nonsensical plot line and characters created for the 2005 musical adapted by Eric Idle and John Du Prez from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The Creative team is led with panache by Jarrad West. He is supported by those of equal flair, Ian McLean and Michelle Heine who create the music and magic on stage. Speaking of people who create magic, I would like to acknowledge Fiona and the costume team; Brigid on vocals: Hannah, the AC & Dance Captain: Lou and Liv on Marketing and Publicity; Jacob and Kyle on lights and sound, and Jill, the Queen of everything that needs attention. Our Tech team is led by the one and only Cam. We are blessed to have such a great crew who keep everything ship shape and running smoothly.
The Cast have loved stretching their comedic talents with the mix of highbrow, lowbrow humour which personifies Monty Python. Everyone gets their comic moment. It lampoons the Broadway musical conventions.
There are still so many variables that are affecting the return of theatre. We are a live theatre performance company and at the very heart of who we are is our audience. We are delighted to be back doing what we love and that is to entertain you.
'Ah, I love to be alone in the country'
'John, I'm with you.'
'Ah, I love to be alone in the country...'
These 3 lines at the start of a radio sketch 'John and Mary' for the BBC radio program 'I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again' were my first introduction to the form of 'British Comedy' we most associate with Monty Python. ISIRTA (as it was abbreviated to) was born out of the Cambridge Circus, presented by the Cambridge University Footlights Revue - which featured John Cleese, Graeme Garden, Tim Brook-Taylor, Bill Oddie (who you would know as yet another comedy group from Britain, The Goodies) with writing provided by Eric Idle and Graham Chapman - who were founding members of Monty Python.
The absurd, the wacky, the ridiculous - these programs would set the tone of British absurdist comedy for many years, creating the signature style of silliness and over the top ridiculousness that still continues to this day though to Blackadder, Yes, Minister and Absolutely Fabulous.
So why Spamalot today? It was first presented in 2003 and created a sensation on Broadway when it opened, and like so many other musicals of that period, such as The Producers and Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) - it was part of the renaissance of Broadway that went on at the turn of the century, when audiences were staying away from the more serious intellectual fare that had been on offer, instead opting for shows that referenced the 'golden eras' of Broadway, with 'old fashioned' show tunes emulating the lighter crowd pleasing fare that had come before. Sondheim this is not. But that's okay! Sometimes in life - we all just need a rousing kickline, or a tap number that appears out of nowhere to make us feel good.
I am very grateful to Anne for entrusting me once again with the reins to put on another Free Rain musical, and to Michelle and Ian, thank you for running with such a ridiculous concept and letting me put the orchestra (and audience!) onstage. Making the audience part of the furniture so to speak gives the cast the freedom to play, to interact, and create a situation where anything can and does happen - which was the hallmark of this style of comedy. But don't worry - the audience in the auditorium still get all the attention as you'll see throughout the show!
And to the cast and crew (particularly SM extraordinaire Cam and my second brain(s) Jill, the assistant director and Hannah the assistant choreographer) thank you for keeping the train running, and Fiona & Tanya, thank you for putting up with me as always and making said train look as pretty as possible when the brief you got was 'peasants and knights and possibly a cow onesie'
And to you - the person who's scanned the QR code and is reading this now, either in the theatre before the show or after when you want to find who is to blame. If it's before - apologies in advance for the silliness. If it's after - you can email me with complaints at firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Choreographer
I will be honest and say I had never seen Spamalot and didn’t really know much about it. Then I played the Soundtrack!!! Wow! What great numbers?? And I became so excited to work with each of the various and different styles. So much variety between Peasants, Showgirls, Tappers, Broadway, Jewish Bottle Dancing, Laker Girls, Knights in Wooley tights, Lancelot with it’s Rio feel – I was in choreographers heaven.
What I also loved was that due to the nature of the silly comedy it is – I could do all the things I’ve ever wanted to do in musicals but was never able to. I had so much fun creating weird and wonderful movements with our cast who readily accepted the many challenges I threw out to them. Boy did we have fun???
I loved creating for this fun Musical and I hope you “laugh out loud” along with us all with Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in Spamalot.
Creative & Production Team
Jarrad trained at both WAAPA and VCA in Musical Theatre and Theatre. Hailing from Perth originally, he moved to Canberra in 2006 and has since forged a reputation as one of Canberra's most sought-after directors and actors. He is the co-founder and producer of the highly-acclaimed theatrical company Everyman Theatre, now in its fifteenth year. Everyman since its inception has attempted to bring to Canberra audiences shows that would not normally be seen here in the nation's capital, staying true to our vision statement - 'Every Man Woman and Child has a story to tell.' One highlight of our time has been being selected to be part of the Canberra Centenary celebrations with our production of Home At The End - presented as part of the Canberra Theatre Centre's 2013 subscription season. Everyman is also one of the companies in residence at Canberra's newest independent theatre venues - ACT Hub - www.acthub.com.au Recently Jarrad has directed Marry Me A Little, Holding the Man, The Importance of Being Earnest (Ovation Award Winner 2022), Beautiful Thing (2022), Hand to God (Ovation Award Winner 2022), Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - The Musical, Mamma Mia!, Absurd Person Singular, Queers,The World Goes 'Round (Winner - Best Musical - CAT Awards 2019) 12 Angry Men (Canberra Critics' Circle Award 2019), FAME - The Musical, The History Boys (with Chris Zuber) (Canberra Critics' Circle Award 2017), The 39 Steps, Avenue Q (Canberra Critics' Circle Award 2017), Funny Girl, Play On!, Casanova, Home At The End, RENT, Hairspray, Breaker Morant, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Laramie Project (Canberra Critics’ Circle Award 2010), Latin! Or Tobacco and Boys (Canberra Critics’ Circle Award 2009), Angels in America Parts I & II (with Liz Bradley) (Canberra Critics’ Circle Award 2008), The Boyfriend, Tickets-Music-Passport, Funny Lovin’ That Theatre, Beautiful Thing (2003) (Robert Finley Award, Best Production 2004). He was last seen on stage in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - The Musical. Prior to that he has performed in Assassins, 42nd Street, The Normal Heart (Canberra Critics' Circle Award 2017), Company, La Cage Aux Folles, The Burning, The Witches of Eastwick, The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!), GOD + pool(no water), Doubt, Grease, The Ides of March, The Boy From Oz, A Lie of the Mind, True West, And Then There Were None, The History Boys (Canberra Critics’ Circle Award 2009), In Cold Light, Singer! Dancer! Actor!, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, School for Scandal, Little Shop of Horrors, RENT, Anthems for Doomed Youth, Crave, Bedroom Farce, Robin Hood, Puss in Boots, Oedipus Rex (Best Actor – 2001) Pinocchio, Play On!, Sing On!, My Three Angels, Cabaret (Best Actor – 2000), Assassins, The Taming of the Shrew, Chalky White Substance, The Pyjama Game, Oliver! As a writer he has developed and directed the shows No Stamp Required, Tickets-Music-Passport!, Singer! Dancer! Actor!, Coffee in a Cardboard Cup.
Ian McLean AM, CSC
Ian McLean served as a professional musician with the Australian Army for over 40 years. His career included postings throughout Australia and the UK and was highlighted by his 8 years as Officer Commanding/Music Director of the Band of the Royal Military College then appointment as the overall Director of Music for the Australian Army. He was CEO, Canberra Symphony Orchestra, during a break in military service between 2001 and 2007. During his 33 years in Canberra he has conducted some 40 productions for many musical theatre companies. He has been the Musical Director of the Blamey Street Big Band for 14 years, played drums with the Leisa Keen jazz trio and ‘Swing in Style’ for many years and is a judge for both the Combined Area Theatre (CAT) Awards and the Ovations Theatre Awards. For “Outstanding Service to the Band of the Royal Military College” Ian was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in the 1996 Australia Day Honours List. In 2003 he received the Centenary of Federation medal for his “outstanding contribution to musical life in Canberra” and in 2004, 2006 and 2007 won Canberra Critics Circle Awards for Music. He is the founder and conductor of the Canberra Pops Orchestra, is a music/theatre reviewer with ‘City News’, runs his own music/entertainment agency and is Patron of both the Australian Rugby Choir and the Australian Capital Territory Youth Orchestra. He has worked professionally as a radio announcer for ABC Radio Canberra and for 15 years presented the ‘Sounds Early’ radio program on Artsound FM. He retired in December 2020 after 8 years in his final military role where he worked as the Media Support Officer at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, providing commentary, and performing the MC role, for all ceremonial military occasions. In recent years he has travelled to Switzerland each July where he is the Artistic Advisor to the famed Basel Tattoo, the European counterpart of Scotland’s Edinburgh Tattoo. In the 2009 Australia Day Honours List he was awarded an AM in the General Division for his services to music and the community. Ian conducted many productions for the Canberra Philharmonic Society from 1990 to 2010 before forming a close association with the Free Rain Theatre Company. In recent years he has conducted Singing in the Rain, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Wicked, Les Miserables, 42nd Street and Shrek for Free Rain and has enjoyed the opportunity to renew his association in the madcap Spamalot.
Embracing everything in dance, choreographer and mentor, Michelle Heine started out as a dancer in a Ballet Company then went onto dance in multi million dollar extravaganza’s in Sun City in Southern Africa. Now many of her students are following in her footsteps of success all over the world. Since the late 1980’s she has been a prominent and highly regarded talent on Canberra’s dance scene with her own studio, “Legs” Performing Arts Studio, formerly based in Tuggeranong but now based in Hume. Students have gone on to make their mark on the world stage such as the Lido, Moulin Rouge, Tap Dogs, Dance Academy, H20 Just Add Water, Jupiters Showroom, Professional Musicals, Film, Television, RAW Metal, Cruise Lines and Universal Studio’s. Her students have performed and competed in Las Vegas, Disney World, Hawaii, Kuala Lumpur, China, Disneyland, Los Angeles and the Gold Coast. In 2014 her students took a trip to Florida to perform on a Cruise Ship and Disney World in Orlando plus Dance Tours to China every 3 years since 2000. Michelle’s career highlights include choreography for the Master Games Opening Ceremony, University Games, National Tourism Awards, Centennial Federation Parades in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra plus many musicals. Credits include My Fair Lady, Les Miserables, Chicago, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Oklahoma, HMS Pinafore, Pack Up Your Troubles, Music Hall, Dancing at Lughnasa, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Hello Dolly, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Boy From Oz, Legally Blonde, Barnum, the Australian Premier of Winging My Way To the Top, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Wicked, a 3rd return to Les Miserables, 42nd Street, FAME, Shrek, Priscilla, My Fair Lady (FreeRain) and as Associate Director and Choreographer for Kinky Boots and Mamma Mia Michelle was awarded the CAT Award for Best Choreographer for Legally Blonde in 2014 and Wicked in 2016 and has been nominated every year for the past 6 years. Michelle was honoured with the top gong, the Golden Cat Award at the 2020 Canberra Amateur Theatre Awards for her work in Musical Theatre, Community Theatre and Legs Performing Arts over the past 30 years. Michelle was awarded a Canberra Arts Critics Circle award for her choreography in West Side Story, 42nd Street and Mamma Mia. Legs Dance Studio was awarded the Chief Ministers Inclusion Award in 2009 for their work with the Down Syndrome and Special Needs Dance group, the Legs Dream Team, now in it’s 16th year.
Technical Director and Production Stage Manager
A Canberra native, Cameron began his theatrical career with youth performances as Bernardo in West Side Story (Erindale, 2001) and in Camelot (Erindale, 2000) as Pellinore before trading costumes for headsets and becoming a stage manager. Over the decades since, Cameron has served as stage manager, technical director or production manager for shows in and around the Canberra region. With an extensive background in stage managing dance productions, Cameron has been Free-Rain's SM for many years. His musical theatre SM credits include My Fair Lady (2022), Priscilla (2022), Mamma Mia (2021), Kinky Boots (2019), Shrek (2018), 42nd Street (2018), Les Misérables (2017), and Wicked (2016), all with Free-Rain Theatre Company. More recently, Cameron has served as Technical Director, beginning with Kinky Boots (Free-Rain, 2019). When not in the theatre, Cameron works as a technology professional.
Fiona has designed costume for many Canberra amateur theatre companies. You would have seen her work if you were in the audience for local productions of The Importance of Being Ernest, Holding the Man, My Fair Lady, The Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, Mamma Mia, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Absurd Person Singular, The Little Mermaid, To Kill a Mockingbird, Kinky Boots, The World Goes Round, Once Upon a Mattress, 42nd Street, 12 Angry Men, Shrek, Alice in Wonderland, Radio on Repertory, Les Misérables, The History Boys, The 39 Steps and Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. In 2022 Fiona was awarded an Australia Day Achievement Medallion (2022) from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for contribution to the arts as a volunteer costume designer who has created costumes for over 50 amateur and semi-professional theatre shows in the Canberra region over the last 20 years. In 2017 Fiona received a Silver CAT (Canberra Area Theatre) award in recognition of her achievements in costume design. Fiona has also received CAT Awards for costume design in musical theatre for Kinky Boots (2019), Shrek (2018) and Mary Poppins (2015).
Assistant Musical Director
Brigid is a multi-instrumentalist, accompanist, and piano teacher, and is delighted to be working with Free-Rain for the first time for Spamalot. Brigid holds a degree in musicology and a diploma in piano performance, and has worked as a musician and accompanist for many years, accompanying both soloists and groups, including the Woden Valley Youth Choir and the Warrani chorale, as well as playing with ensembles including the Blamey St Big Band, Brindabella Orchestra and Canberra City Band. She has previously been repetiteur for Queanbeyan Player’s productions of the Sound of Music (2021), Keating (2022), the Sound of Music Encore (2022) and Footloose (2023).
Assistant to the Director
This time last year Jill was onstage as Mrs Pearce in Free Rain’s My Fair Lady. Thereafter she worked as assistant to the director for Free Rains Steel Magnolias. Jill has also appeared in a Sondheim a musical tribute, Baby Boomers at Vivaldi’s and South Pacific (Queanbeyan Players). Jill is also part of the ACT Hub Collective, and has been a tv extra for Total Control and Mercedes. Working in or on a show takes a lot of time and commitment and none of this would be possible if it was not for her biggest cheer team; Julian, Lachlan and Cameron. Working with this creative team and cast has been so exciting and has developed another skill to add to her armoury of theatre production.
Conductor – Ian McLean AM, CSC
Violin – Rowan Harvey-Martin / Eliana Piddington
Keyboard 1 – Brigid Cummins
Keyboard 2 – Ryan Arscott
Keyboard 3 – Lauren Duffy
Flute / Piccolo / Alto Saxophone – Lara Turner / Carl Vitolovich
Clarinet / Bass Clarinet / Tenor Saxophone – Lenore Studdert
1st Trumpet – Zach Raffan
2nd Trumpet / French Horn – Jesse Hill
Trombone – Felicity Boxall / Bronwen Mackenzie
Guitar – Chris Neal / James McPherson
Bass – Andrew Heron
Drums – Steve Barrett
Percussion – Jenna Hinton / Tim Cole
Director – Jarrad West
Musical Director – Ian McLean
Choreographer – Michelle Heine
Set Design – Jarrad West
Lighting Design – Jacob Aquilina
Costume Design – Fiona Leach
Sound Design – Kyle Maley
Producer – Anne Somes
Technical Director – Cameron Walter
Assistant to the Director – Jill Young
Assistant Musical Director – Brigid Cummins
Assistant Choreographer – Hannah Lance
Production Stage Manager – Cameron Walter
Head of Lighting – Zac Harvey
Head of Sound – Kyle Maley
Head of Properties – Jill Young
Head Radio Technician – Nathan Patrech
DANCE CAPTAIN – Hannah Lance
PRODUCTION PROPERTIES – Anne Somes, Jill Young, Jarrad West, Sam Crafter
PRE PRODUCTION AND PRODUCTION BUILD
Set Construction & Realisation – Squig's Welding, Bryn Millar, Nick Valois
Costume Construction and Realisation – Fiona leach, Tanya Taylor, Jenny Norberry, Sam Inall, Sandy Cassidy, Mercedes Ellis, Nicole Taylor
Stage Manager – Cameron Walter
Stage Technicians – Nicole DeLorenzo, Graeme Fennamore, Eve Perry, Lucy Van Dooren, Jill Young
Followspot Operators – Bryn Millar, Nathan Patrech, Chris Ward
Radio Technicians – Nathan Patrech, Evey Perry, Lucy Van Dooren
Lighting Operator – Zac Harvey
Audio Operator – Kyle Maley
MARKETING & PUBLICITY
Director of Marketing, Graphic Design & Social Media – Louiza Blomfield
Publicity and Media – Louiza Blomfield, Olivia Wenholz
Marketing Manager – Olivia Wenholz
Promotion Photography – Louiza Blomfield
Production Photography – Janelle McMenamin
TV COMMERCIAL VIDEOGRAPHY and PRODUCTION
Pixelwise – Nick Johnson
Creative Director – Louiza Blomfield
Sportscare and Physiotherapy Weston, Principal – Kylie Kook
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez & Eric Idle
A new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
From the original screenplay by
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
BY ARRANGEMENT WITH ORiGiN™ THEATRICAL
ON BEHALF OF THEATRICAL RIGHTS WORLDWIDE, NEW YORK
Original Broadway Production Produced by Boyett Ostar Productions, The Shubert Organization, Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie McClelland/Lawrence Horowitz, Elan V McAllister/Allan S. Gordon, Independent Presenters Network, Roy Furman, GRS Associates, Jam Theatricals, TGA Entertainment, & Clear Channel Entertainment.
ERIC IDLE (Book, lyrics, and music) has multi-hyphenated his way through life, from being a writer and actor in the legendary "Monty Python" TV series and movies, to the creator and director of "The Rutles.” He has appeared on stage singing rude songs with John Du Prez at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl as well as performing in two highly successful tours, Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python (2000) and The Greedy Bastard Tour (2003), for which they journeyed 15,000 miles across North America in a bus. His Greedy Bastard Diary of that tour is available from Harper Collins. Their latest work, a comic oratorio called Not the Messiah, will be performed shortly in Toronto. His play Pass The Butler ran for five months in London’s West End; he has written two novels, Hello Sailor and The Road to Mars, a children’s book, The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and The Pussycat, and a bedside companion, The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book. Spamalot has already won him a Tony, a Grammy and the respect of his wife and children.
JOHN DU PREZ (Music) a Trevelyan Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, and Associate of the Royal College of Music, he entered the film industry in 1978 composing additional music for Monty Python’s Life of Brian. This began a long association with Eric Idle, leading eventually to their current writing partnership. He has scored more than 20 feature films including The Meaning of Life, A Private Function, A Fish Called Wanda, Once Bitten, UHF and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I, II, and III. Other Python projects include the Contractual Obligation Album, Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl and The Fairly Incomplete & Rather Badly Illustrated Monty Python Song Book. He was musical director for Eric Idle’s two North American stage tours, Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python (2000) and The Greedy Bastard Tour (2003). This is his Broadway debut.
MONTY PYTHON. Is he God or Godot, an agent of the devil or an agent of the William Morris Agency, or is he, as some have argued, a fictitious character invented in 1969 by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin in a desperate attempt to find a title for their rather silly TV show? Whatever the truth, he is the eponymous impresario who fronts “The Flying Circus,” The Holy Grail, The Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life, And Now for Something Completely Different and who appeared Live at Drury Lane, City Center and the Hollywood Bowl. He has fronted numerous books including The Big Red Book and the Papperbok as well as many CDs, DVDs and matching ties and handkerchiefs. He is currently in retirement in an old jokes home near Dover, anxiously awaiting Nighthood and a Knightnurse. This is his first Broadway show. Further details: www.PythOnline.com
All songs published by Rutsongs Music & Ocean Music Ltd., © 2004. All rights Reserved, except songs from Monty Python & the Holy Grail, published by EMI/Python (Monty) Pictures as follows: “Finland,” music and lyrics by Michael Palin; “Knights of the Round Table,” music by Neil Innes, lyrics by Graham Chapman and John Cleese, “Brave Sir Robin,” music by Neil Innes, lyrics by Eric Idle; and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” music and lyrics by Eric Idle from Life of Brian, published by Python (Monty) Pictures.
SPAM® is a registered trademark of Hormel Foods LLC.
Free-Rain Theatre Company would like to sincerely thank its patrons; sponsors; collaborators and
the myriad of contributors for journeying with the company.
The Q Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre; Legs Dance Studio; Eclipse Lighting and Sound;
Pixelwise; Sportscare Canberra; Instant Colour Press and Kwik Kopy Phillip.
The Queanbeyan-Palerang Council; Jacqui Richards; Sara Wightman; Jordan Best and the
Administration Staff – The Q; Michelle Heine & Legs Dance Studio; Hannah Lance; Kwik Kopy
Phillip; Richard Block – Instant Colour Press, Belconnen; Dr Cate Clelland; Nicole Taylor; Steph
Roberts; Joel Horwood; Lachlan Houen; Jo Zacharias; Nikki Fitzgerald; Sonna Schramm; Chris Neal
& Staff - Eclipse Lighting and Sound; Jill & Julian Young; Kylie Kook – Sportscare Canberra; Nick
Johnson – Pixelwise Creative Media
Gary Humphries; Helen Bridges; Tracey Rice; Fiona Leach; Coralie Wood OAM; Barbara Sekuless;
Aaron Weissmann; Louiza Blomfield; Cameron Walter
Ian McLean; Nicholas Griffin; Lucy Jones; Jennie Norberry; Tanya Taylor.
Free-Rain Theatre Company is a member of The Ovations.