MUKILTEO — The mime didn’t look quite right.
The Monty Python “Spamalot” character was dressed in a signature black-and-white shirt and black pants — but the costume seemed lacking. Where were his suspenders? His white gloves? His black beret and red bandana?
Though he had been miming around before, Kamiak High School’s Teddy Kouthong was at attention for his costume check. On April 24, students paraded in costume for the directors to assess how they’ll be dressed in Kamiak’s spring musical based on the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The show opens May 4.
The directors, teachers Bryan Sullivan and Nancy Duck-Jefferson, made lots of notes: The Cher costume needs more feathers. The Dennis character should look dirtier before he’s knighted. And the Narrator? They picture her with a librarian look, complete with glasses and pencil in hair.
While 45 students cast in “Spamalot” are busy with rehearsals, 33 others are volunteering to help with the Camelot-meets-Vegas musical comedy’s costumes, props and staging. Whatever behind-the-scenes things 22 students in a theater class can’t get to, they show up after school and get it done.
Then, of course, there are all of the parent volunteers helping to stage “Spamalot.” You can’t forget about them.
“We’ve done a lot of work to reach out to parents to supply us with any props and costumes that are relatively easy to get and find,” said Sullivan, the director and drama teacher. “We created an Amazon wish list of things: a mime shirt, a killer rabbit — which is just a puppet rabbit — the lanterns. Stuff like that.”
Costumer Lisa Mullavey lovingly refers to the racks of costumes next to the school’s dressing rooms as organized chaos.
“This is probably my most challenging production, because of the number of costumes,” said Mullavey, a bookkeeper by day who has a degree in textiles and apparel design. “Our principal actors may have one or two costumes, but our ensemble have up to seven costume changes each. For almost every major song, they have a costume change.”
Mullavey took inspiration from Broadway to get the costumes just right, from wigs and helmets to armor and gowns. It helps that she can repurpose pieces from Kamiak’s past dance team routines and theater productions — a lot was borrowed from 2012’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Anacortes High School also loaned its Broadway replica costumes from when it staged “Spamalot.” Those cost upwards of $200 each.
If costumes can’t be begged from others, they have to be made.
Laura Towner, a sophomore, is Mullavey’s costume assistant. She meant to volunteer in the light booth but showed up after school on the wrong day. It was a wonderful mistake. She has learned how to sew and properly fold clothing — “My mom is very impressed” — and now she’s smitten with costuming.
Laura, 16, has fashioned pompons for the Laker Girls, a Carmen Miranda-style fruit hat for Prince Herbert and burlap-sack clothes for Not Dead Fred — all “Spamalot” characters — and many other pieces. She had the most fun working on a flowered crown for Sir Lancelot.
“I got to completely dream it up,” she said. “I had this (big) box of fake flowers, and I just got to go crazy in it.”
Andrew Forrester, another sophomore, volunteered to be the show’s prop master. He carries a clipboard to keep inventory of which props go with which characters.
Like the costumes, some of the props are either borrowed from past productions (the plush fish for the fish-slapping scene are another Anacortes loan) or had to be specially made. Andrew, 16, can rattle off his inventory on command. It includes 15 horned helmets, 12 maracas, five swords, and one cow — which he made — to be catapulted over a castle wall.
Oh, and one holy grail.
As these “techies” rush around back stage helping with costume fittings and handing out props, the stage crew also is rehearsing.
Ben Colby, a junior, is the head fly of “Spamalot” after serving as a fly for Kamiak’s “White Christmas” in 2016. What’s a fly? They’re the crew members behind the curtain who work the ropes that move backdrops, as well as sets that are too large to carry. Ben’s aleady hung the trees from the Very Expensive Forest. Next he’ll rope up the 19-by-24-foot castle with a Kamiak purple scheme.
Ben, 16, can’t see what’s going on from backstage, so he has to rely on the stage manager to be his eyes. When she gives her cue, he pulls the rope.
Meanwhile, Brynnea McGill and Kellan Mahoney, both sophomores, are on the nine-student run crew. They’re the ones who move sets on and off the stage — basically anything that the flies can’t move up and down with ropes. Their movements are coded with colored tape on the stage. Each color goes with a different scene. It lets them know where and when to place things. This will be Brynnea’s seventh production and Kellan’s second as a runner.
Kellan, 16, likes to tell about his first time on run crew for Kamiak’s “Almost Maine” this year. It’s a funny story because his job was so simple. (He realizes that his job for “Spamalot” will be anything but. The stage pieces in “Almost Maine” consisted of just four acting blocks to move, and there were four students in the run crew. So Kellan was in charge of moving the biggest block on and off stage.
Brynnea, also 16, goes over the run crew rules: Be aware. Memorize where your sets go. No talking. Walk with purpose, never run.
“If the audience sees you running, they’ll think something’s wrong,” she said.
If you go
Monty Python’s “Spamalot” is showing at 7 p.m. May 4, 5, 11; 2 and 7 p.m. May 12 in Kamiak High School’s theater, 10801 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo. A preview performance is 7 p.m. May 3. Tickets, $15 for adults or $10 for students and seniors. Call 425-366-5427 or go to www.kamiakarts.org for more information.
Spamalot, Act 4: Costumes, Props, Stage Crew
This is the fourth of a multi-part Herald series about the making of a high school musical. Follow the story of Kamiak’s “Spamalot” from auditions to closing night in Sunday’s Good Life section and online at www.heraldnet.com. The last installment — on performing the show — will be published May 27.