POLITICS

'Spamalot' aims to surprise D.C. audiences

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Alicia M. Cohn

It's worth getting orchestra seats for "Monty Python's Spamalot," which opened at the National Theatre on Wednesday night. The Phoenix Entertainment production has written the District right into the show.

Emily Croome sits facing the stage just like the audience does, but for much of the show, the cast interacts with her, yelling and glaring and generally turning her -- the conductor -- into a foil for their jokes.

"Most of the time, the audience ignores the conductor; they're supposed to ignore the conductor," Croome told Yeas & Nays, adding that on any given production she usually interacts with the cast throughout the show -- it's just invisible to the audience.

Croome even does some physical comedy, standing up to "shoot" a member of the orchestra who oversteps on a solo and throwing a bouquet onstage at a key moment. Since the jokes are written into the score, Croome said it "doesn't feel any different" from her regular job.

"The only difference is the audience laughs," she said.

Much more surprised at her role in the show Wednesday night was Sandy Stolt, an Arlington resident the cast pulled onstage near the end of the show. Stolt, who told Yeas & Nays she grew up watching Monty Python skits, now has a Polaroid photo with the cast -- taken onstage during the performance -- to remember the experience. An audience member is randomly selected during every show, Croome said.

We'd say Stolt and her granddaughter, Jordan, a junior at the University of Maine in town for a congressional internship, enjoyed a very nontraditional night out in D.C.

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