Video: What’s it like to appear in Spamalot

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Entertainments reporters Sammy Jones and Steve Mills were given the chance to appear for one night only in Spamalot the musical.

I’ve spent years writing about those in the spotlight, but after battling my stage fright, on Tuesday night I sampled life ‘on the other side’ for the first time, writes Sammy Jones.

Cast of Spamalot on Tuesday night. Pic by Al Hunter

Cast of Spamalot on Tuesday night. Pic by Al Hunter

I took on a starring role in Spamalot at MK Theatre.

When I say a starring role though, it’s a brief cameo in essence.

My time as a peasant Hay Baler was brief (a few seconds), but it got a guaranteed laugh AND I can now say I’ve stage-shared with Joe Pasquale and Joe Tracini, who were most welcoming.

I wasn’t alone for this stage debut though – colleague Steve was also treading the boards, as Sir Not Appearing.

Sammy Jones as the Hay Baler. Pic by Al Hunter

Sammy Jones as the Hay Baler. Pic by Al Hunter

Apparently it was the first time the company had used two non-actors in the same performance.

So you could say we broke new ground with our stage debut!

Arriving at stage door (as all A-listers do) company manager Phil Sykes whisks us straight to wardrobe for our transformation, thanks to clothing aces Iwan and Nia for their support.

Then we headed into the wings to be shown our parts, and have a run through with the cast.

Steve Mills getting ready to be Sir Not Appearing with wardrobe master Iwan Harries. Pic by Al Hunter

Steve Mills getting ready to be Sir Not Appearing with wardrobe master Iwan Harries. Pic by Al Hunter

“It was a great experience not appearing in this musical,” Steve said, tongue in cheek.

And I apparently have the best couldn’t give a damn face they’ve had all season .

I think that is a compliment...

It might not have been the first time appearing on stage for Steve Mills, but he talks about appearing at a professional show.

Steve Mills and Sammy Jones in the wings before going on.

Steve Mills and Sammy Jones in the wings before going on.

It’s not often that you get an email ping through asking if you would like to appear in Spamalot. However Milton Keynes Theatre sent me this email about six weeks ago and how could I refuse. To even be associated with the mythology of Monty Python is an absolute privilege.

Many of my work colleagues have known that I have treaded the boards before, since the age of 18 (it’s a long time, don’t ask how long!) but have been used to performing in village halls and small theatres as part of my amateur dramatics group The Hardwicke Players in Gloucestershire.

However there is a difference between appearing in front of 100 people and 1,400 people.

I had tried to put it to the back of my mind. The night of Tuesday is a rather day for me with two big papers on deadline that day. However after getting in the car to drive to the theatre, the nerves really hit me.

Having met Sammy at the stage door and were greeted by Phil Sykes, company manager and quickly taken for the wardrobe. Sammy literally had the easiest costume, one thing straight over the top of her outfit.

My costume was more complex. I was told by wardrobe wizards Iwan and Nia that I would have to pretty much take everything off. For the sake of preserving what little dignity that I have, I avoided including that footage in the video.

The costume, complete with clunky armour, did make me look like a dwarf Cyberman. But that would be doing a discredit to everyone who worked hard. It looked great.

Rehearsals went okay, although I needed to do it twice as I messed up the first time. Afterwards, Sammy and I were both given credit by the pros, in particular Joe Tracini playing Patsy in the show.

And from there, it was straight into performance time.

I was wired up for sound and connected up and then downstairs to wait in the wings for the part.

Two minutes before coming up, I had a lovely apologetic lady come up to me and stick a fake moustache and beard on me to complete the look.

Then I had a cue and stood in the line alongside the other knights of the round table. I was proud, overjoyed, there will always be a part of me associated with this musical.

And fortunately, I remembered I had a line to say. Which was sorry, and as I walked off, there was good set of laughs from the audience which made feel better.

After that, I had the chance to see the show again for the second half which kept me amused. I had a renewed sense of respect for the actors and everybody behind the scenes. All of the effort I described above went into a five second cameo and one line.

But it was a fantastic experience and one that I shall never forget.