It’s interesting how one generation’s subversion can become the next generation’s nostalgia.
That’s the story of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British TV series that was thought to be nearly heretical by some establishment types in the 1960s and ’70s. Today it has been imbued with a rosy glow by the passage of time and societal evolution on both sides of the Atlantic.
One of the original members of the sketch comedy troupe, Michael Palin, has actually been knighted.
Monty Python’s musical comedy “Spamalot,” which is coming to Hershey Theatre at the end of the month, is an amalgam of the troupe’s work based primarily on the 1975 film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” It’s a mostly silly and occasionally hilarious sendup of Arthurian legend written by longtime Pythonite Eric Idle.
The original 2005 Broadway production starring Tim Curry was a huge hit, running for 1,575 performances and receiving 14 Tony Award nominations, including a win for Best Musical.
Hershey’s touring production, directed by Sam Viverito, will be on stage at the Derry Township theater from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3.
Starring as King Arthur is veteran stage actor Steve McCoy, who played the same role in previous touring production of “Spamalot.” Newcomer Leslie Jackson portrays the Lady of the Lake, while Baltimore area actor Adam Grabau handles a variety of roles, including Sir Lancelot.
Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg brings “Radium Girls” to the stage starting Jan. 18, telling a fact-based story about a horrifying episode in American history.
In the 1920s, women hired to paint watch dials with luminous paint in three factories owned by the United States Radium Corporation began falling sick and dying from a mysterious illness. Known as Radium Girls, they soon sued their employers
They had been told the radium-based paint was harmless, and even encouraged by their bosses to use their lips to give their brushes a fine point when working. They even painted their fingernails and teeth with it.
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Radium watches were all the rage, and Madame Marie Curie, the French chemist who first identified it, was an international celebrity.
But this fashion trend soon turned tragic, as women began dying from what turned out to be radiation poisoning caused by the radioactive substance. At the time, little was known about the dangers of radioactivity. Curie herself succumbed to her long exposure to radioactive substances in 1933.
LTM’s production of “Radium Girls” runs through Feb. 3 at the community theater. Written by D.W. Gregory, the drama is directed by Robert Zaccano with a cast that includes Gretchen Ray, Gordon Einhorn, Mary Geraci, Sarah Allwein and others.
Celebration of musical giants
Both lyricist William Schwenck Gilbert and composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan had success in the world of British opera before meeting one another in 1870 during a rehearsal of one of Gilbert’s “entertainments.”
By 1874, the two were collaborating professionally, creating a series of 14 comic operas that redefined the genre with a style that has sometimes been described as “fast-talking people saying funny things.” Among the pair’s better-known works are “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “The Pirates of Penzance” and, of course, “The Mikado,” which has become one of the most frequently staged musical theater pieces in history.
Along the way they also produced a plethora of memorable songs, including gems such as “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” and “Three Little Maids from School are We.”
Beginning next week the Krevsky Center, Theatre Harrisburg will present a celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan’s music titled “Oh Joy, Oh Rapture!” The show’s title comes from a “Pinafore” tune titled “Oh Joy, Oh Rapture Unforeseen.”
Theatre Harrisburg’s tribute is directed by Artistic Director Emeritus Thomas Hostetter. The show will be performed seven times between Jan. 18 and 27.
Gilbert and Sullivan continued to create comic operas together until 1896, but their partnership ended in acrimony well before Sullivan’s death in 1900. Gilbert died in 1911. Their work, however, lives on.