Pre-Fringe profile: “Spermalot: The Musical”


by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low | 4/21/09

SHOW TITLE: Spermalot: The Musical
PRODUCER: The Change Co-Operative
SHOW DESCRIPTION: Original material takes a prolific and pompous poke at American sexuality and human reproduction as a parody of the Knights of the Round Table.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I am the king of the rulers of all Arthuriana geeks. Also, I met these guys in the 2007 Iowa Fringe Festival but didn’t get the chance to see their show.

Just who do you think you are, anyway?
The Change Co-Operative is a joint venture of Theater … for a CHANGE and The Comedy Co-Operative.

womb with a view is the blog of phillip andrew bennett low, one of five bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival and other theater for the daily planet.

CHANGE is in its fifth season producing shows in the Des Moines area and its founder, Thatcher Williams, was instrumental in organizing 2 of the 3 years of the Iowa Fringe Festival. We have produced over two dozen shows in those five years, including the Iowa Premiere of David Mann’s CORLEONE (a 2005 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit). Also, CHANGE produces free Shakespeare in the Park performances in the summer and is the co-producer of the 711 Theatre Project, a deadline-driven short play competition festival. More information about Theater … for a CHANGE can be found on our website.

The Comedy Co-Operative is a comedy sketch and theater group that has been performing for about six years. All material performed by the Co-Operative is created from talent locally in the Des Moines area. SPERMALOT is the second musical that founders David Brooks and Karen Swanson have worked on. Their first, TENT CITY, opened in Des Moines to wonderful reviews in late 2006 and will be performed with updated material in the fall of 2009. More info can be found at this website.

So what’s the big idea?

SPERMALOT: The Musical takes the King Arthur legend and throws it into fertile ground, the human reproductive system. Mixing a little Avenue Q into the mix, King Arthur and his Knights are sperm puppets (their sperm heads being about the size of a playground beach ball) sent on their quest by the Lady of the Labia (actress decked out in her full pinked glory). Their quest is for the chosen one to unite with the Holy Grail – the ovum, Ova Eggavere Benedict. Along their way, the Knights travel through the both the male and female reproductive system and are met with challenges and obstacles. Besides having to navigate the river of fluid shot forth from the Seminal Vesicle, they must make the leap of faith from the male prepuce into the vagina and meet up with the Little Man in the Boat. And they must battle their way against Black (Jedi) Knight Samuel Jackson, Red Knight Aunto Flo and Green Knight Chlamydia. All the while, the Ova is growing older and is tormented by her biological clock and is watched over by the over-protective Cervix. It all ends with a reality-show like competition between the best of the Knights to gain the Holy Grail. With songs like the title track “Spermalot,” and “One Brave Sperm,” “My Time Has Come,” “C’mon Ova,” “I’m Chlamdyia,” and the touching “Something New With You;” SPERMALOT is a vas deferens from other musicals that have come before – and may ever come again.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

Thatcher haphazardly announced at the end of the 2006 Iowa Fringe Festival that in 2007 SPERMALOT was coming because he wanted something that was catchy, a little controversial and a lot funny. He had the basic concept in mind, but not a drop of ink had spilled onto the page. Gathering together Dave and Karen, he also brought on several other Des Moines area actors – John Cisar, Larry Mahlstedt, Kevein Spire and Amy Stanwood to help write the book and songs for the show. Even before the group got together, less than 2 weeks after the 2006 Iowa Fringe had closed, SPAMALOT attorneys had contacted Thatcher with their concerns
(and legal threats) should the show have anything to do with Monty
Python’s SPAMALOT. Thatcher assured them it wouldn’t and had to revise his initial basic concept a little bit. Bringing on one more actor – Warren Westlund and puppet maker Morgan Beary, the group got their creative juices flowing and performed the world premiere at the 2007 Iowa Fringe Festival – where it became a top 3 in ticket sales and huge fan favorite.

Why should I care?

After the 2009 Minnesota Fringe Festival – SPERMALOT heads to the New York International Fringe Festival. This is your chance to see it before stuffy east coast people do. It has had the opportunity to be workshopped at a University in the UK and much of the updates are from our experience in Des Moines and that workshop. It’s fast-paced, with a lot of video elements for backdrops, entertainment and has a nice level of current event and cultural references. Besides being a musical comedy with a mix of puppets and actors, it is also quite educational. Every effort has been made to be anatomically correct and biologically sound, even if literary license is taken. Also, we’re giving away a free condom supplied by Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa to every patron who attends the show (while supplies last). And when was the last time you saw a woman-sized vulva being stroked on stage? Hmmm?

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Sperm – a lot, Ovum:
Without them life would be nil.
Catch the show, live on!

Phillip Andrew Bennett Low ( is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theater critic and libertarian activist, who lurks ominously in the desert wilds of St. Louis Park, feasting upon the hygienically-prepared flesh of the once-living. His main claim to fame is probably as co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers, and as founder/producer of Maximum Verbosity, a garage-band-like theater troupe that is in a state of constantly re-defining itself.

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