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Three shows not to miss

By: Don Chaddock Folsom Lake Entertainer
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Three shows in the region are definite “must sees” for theater lovers. They range from a national Broadway touring company featuring knights in shining armor to cowboys reciting poetry and a ballet that has become a holiday tradition. Monty Python’s “Spamalot” a hit with fans This triple 2005 Tony-winning musical is “lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’” according to their official press kit. The official national touring company of the Eric Idle-penned musical, “Spamalot” hits Folsom’s Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, just before Thanksgiving. Running at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17, 8 p.m. Nov. 18 and at 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 19, there are four options to see the over-the-top production. Monty Python was a British comedy troupe featuring Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. They had a long-running television series and a string of films and comedy specials. According to Dave Pier, executive director of Three Stages, this is the first time the national Broadway touring company has hit the capital region. California Musical Theatre staged the play in 2010. “The play is based on a movie that was filmed in five weeks for around $400,000,” said Pier. “How far it’s come.” The play follows the exploits of King Arthur and his knights on their quest for the Holy Grail. Thomas DeMarcus is looking forward to touring in the show, his second time with “Spamalot.” “I’m understudying King Arthur and play Sir Bedevere, one of his Knights of the Round Table,” DeMarcus said in a phone interview from New York, where they are in rehearsals. “I did the show last year and played a different part.” DeMarcus hails from Tennessee. “I grew up on Monty Python and Carol Burnett,” he said. “It’s funny how my parents helped me learn from these great comedians. Monty Python is so clever and it translates to the show. I still have it on my computer and watch it from time to time. If you’re a fan of Monty Python, you will not be disappointed (with “Spamalot”).” DeMarcus said fan interaction is part of the fun. “Last year, I played a character that is on stage for maybe five minutes. He’s also in the movie for about as long,” he said. “He’s Brother Maynard and there was a guy dressed as that character. I came out of my dressing room and there was a guy dressed like that, just standing there. It took me a few minutes to realize he came dressed that way. People come dressed as knights and in medieval gear. It’s not uncommon. It’s in a similar vein of people dressing up as Star Trek (characters). We love diehard fans.” During last year’s tour, DeMarcus was fortunate enough to meet one of the Pythons. “We met Eric Idle,” he said. “He came and saw us in California last year. There is a lot of pressure. You know there are going to be a majority of people who are fans of Monty Python and when you have Eric Idle in the audience, that’s even more pressure.” He was worried about the performance, but Idle turned out to be “a nice guy,” he said. “My mom saw Elvis from the front row and it was sort of something like that for comedy fans. Eric Idle came back stage and met us,” he said. “The pressure of putting on Monty Python (is almost imagined because) the material needs nothing else. Sometimes you can just say your lines in a funny accent and that’s all it needs.” The show will be in Folsom Nov. 17-19. DeMarcus said he plans to take some time to experience the town. “We’re coming to Folsom for a three-day weekend,” DeMarcus said. “One of my favorite things about touring is learning about the local towns and the history … and the food.” Tickets range from $45-$65. Premium seats are $79. Tickets are available at threestages.net or by calling (916) 608-6888. “Nutcracker” is annual tradition No matter where you are, someone is bound to be doing “Nutcracker.” The annual ballet is synonymous with the holidays for many families. In the Auburn area, check out the Placer Theatre Ballet production opening Nov. 26 and running Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 4. They perform at the Placer High School Theatre, 275 Orange Street (on the corner of High and Agard streets in Auburn). Pat Colgate, a former New York City Rockette and solo dancer with the Boston Ballet Company, is their artistic director. Colgate also performed on Broadway in “Fiorello,” “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Hit The Deck” and “Destry Rides Again.” The show features dancers from around the region, including Folsom, Rocklin, Roseville and Auburn. Tickets range in price from $13 to $20. Check placertheatreballet.org or show times and more information. In Folsom, you’ll have to wait until 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 and Dec. 18. That’s when Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet performs the annual favorite at Three Stages, 10 College Parkway in Folsom. Tickets run $15-$26 available at threestages.net or by calling (916) 608-6888. Explore western life with Cowpoke Fall Gathering The sleepy town of Loomis comes alive with the annual Cowpoke Fall Gathering. Running Nov. 10-13 at the Blue Goose Fruit Packing Shed, a building that’s been restored as a performing arts center and meeting hall, hundreds gather to listen to cowboy poetry, music, eat and have a good time. One of the featured entertainers is Dave Stamey, singer and songwriter who has been named entertainer of the year, male performer of the year and songwriter of the year by the Western Music Association. He’s also received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists. The 6 p.m. Nov. 10 kick-off event is $30. For the Nov. 11 performances, which start at 1 p.m., admission is $35. For the Nov. 12 performances, admission is $25 for the 1 p.m. show and $35 for the 6:30 p.m. performances. For tickets, visit cowpokefallgathering.com or call (916) 652-6113.