Monty Python’s Spamalot Young @ Part performed by the Elite youth actors from Lakeshore Academy of Fine Arts (LAFA) received a standing ovation when it opened last night in Belle River at the Urban Field House. Two more performances will take place Saturday (July 27) before the theatre group takes the show to the Holy Grail of arts events, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland this August.
“They’ve been practicing all year and will put on four performances in Edinburgh,” explained Sarah Ilijanich. “Tracey Ramsey (MP for Essex) came by to congratulate the kids on going to Scotland and they performed a scene for her.”
Opening night began with a wine, cheese, and dessert reception. During the reception Darren Dauphinee told us his daughters, Abigail and Ruby, are in the play. “They’re very excited about the show and to go to Scotland. There’s a lot of history and there’s theatre groups from all around the world going there.”
Ruby Dauphinee, who plays one of three Lady of The Lakes in Spamalot, says, “I’m beyond excited to go to Scotland, this is like the biggest opportunity of my life, it is the biggest music theatre festival in the world.” Ruby has a few acting credits under her belt already. In fact, she plays a role in the Dot Film Company movie Boys vs Girls filmed here in Windsor Essex last year. Producers Mike Stasko and Theodore Bezaire, in attendance for the opening of Spamalot, told us the movie is being edited and will hit the film festival circut this fall. Ruby also added, “everyone here is so thankful for the instructors here at LAFA and the opportunities they give us.”
In a backstage interview 11 year old Aidee, one of the youngest in Spamalot, says one of the important things she learned with LAFA is “when you’re doing a show you should always stay on top of it and learn your lines.” Aidee is excited to be heading to Edinburgh.
Ashley Poulin, playing the role of King Arthur’s assistant Patsy, is also excited saying, “I’m most excited to get to work with such an awesome group of people and then bring the show to Scotland, with my best friends.” Ashley was a treat to watch in the play, with a wide smile she simulated King Arthur’s horse trotting by banging coconuts together.
Ashley is currently entering her fourth year of LAFA Elite’s Triple Threat Program. She has received the All-Star Actor award and the top vocal score at the Access Broadway Regionals held in Troy, Michigan last March. In fact, “we (LAFA Elite Actors) won both divisions,” says Bethany Joy Radford, co-director of Spamalot Young @ Part. “We swept it, we were dubbed the best music theatre school nationally,” added Kathy Roberts also a co-director of the show. Roberts also said, “We love the arts and we need it now in this political climate and to continue to support it. I think it’s critical, these are dangerous times and I think the arts are a lot of what keeps society propelling and moving forward. Especially children’s theatre because when you foster that love from a very early age they have life long appreciation of it.”
The process for auditioning for Spamalot and the LAFA Elite group began last year. “Joe Cardinal came in and he did the casting for this show,” explained Makenna Pickersgill who plays one of The Lady of The Lakes. “Most of us had more than one song prepared just in case because we had different characters that we were auditioning for.” 17 year old, Makenna has been performing for seven years, this is her fourth year on LAFA’s Elite competition team, and has performed several parts including the title role in Annie.
After witnessing the cast performing in Spamalot Young @ Part, the talent of the entire group is clearly beyond their years. The audience enjoyed a production filled with well executed dancing and singing. They were laughing, hooting and hollering throughout the show. King Arthur, played superbly by Calum McMillan, and his knights searched for the Holy Grail, ultimately finding it hidden in the audience. In the end the audience gave the cast a well deserved standing ovation.
As Bethany stated at the beginning of the play, “They have been working so hard for so many months on this amazing show, this is next caliber for this building and for this city, not Excalibur, next caliber.” Taking the show to Edinburgh is definitely “next caliber” and “The Holy Grail” for this young talented group.
Opening night concluded with the start of a new tradition. Sarah Ilijanich asked Calum McMillan (Access Broadway All-Star vocal award winner) and Annika Marie Desando (Lady of the Lake) to stand up. The pair are both graduating from LAFA, Calum heading to Sheridan College to pursue acting, and Annika pursuing a degree in the Drama in Education Program at the University of Windsor. The pair autographed head-shots of themselves, as part of the new tradition, which will see the pictures hung on the “Wall of LAFA Alumni” in the Urban Field House.
“It’s been really great, I started with Fusion Talent Agency, and was drawn into one of the shows here and it’s changed my life,” Calum told the audience. “I’m really grateful.”
“I’ve been with LAFA ever since grade six, they used to come and do shows at our school, that’s how I found out about them,” explained Annika, “I joined and started doing shows here, that was in grade nine, and I’ve learned so much and have had so many experiences, thank you for all of that.”
Over 160 tickets sold in advance for opening night of LAFA Elite’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot Young @ Heart and around 200 people attended in total. The cast are aged 11 years old to almost 18 years old. Final performances take place at The Urban Field House in Emeryville (Belle River), 1203 Faith Drive, on July 27 at 2pm and 7pm.
Tickets are $20 each and available at the door or online at http://www.lakeshoreacademyoffinearts.com
For more information about the play visit https://eyesonwindsor.com/event/monty-pythons-spamalot-young-at-part/
The theatre group will head to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland to put on four performances this August.