SPAMALOT tells the riotous tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail. The irreverent production features an ensemble of dancing divas and charming knights—of flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and one legless night.
Vital VOICE recently caught up with out-actor Jon Garry via telephone while on tour with the production in New Orleans. Garry tackles several roles in the national tour and talks about SPAMALOT’s wide appeal and gay humor.
Colin Murphy: How has the touring experience been for you?
Jon Garry: It’s actually pretty wonderful. I was a little bit nervous about being on the road for a year but it turns out that I love it. I get to see the country and right now we’re in New Orleans, which is really fun. And of course we get to go to St. Louis and one of my best friends lives there. It’s been a blast.
CM: Were you familiar with the Monty Python brand before the musical?
JG: I had seen “The Life of Brian” before, but that was the only Monty Python realm that I knew, and I didn’t really love it until we did the show. Since we’ve done the show I watch Monty Python all the time now. I think it’s hilarious—It’s so wonderfully absurd and human and just really relatable. So I have fun now watching all of that stuff.
CM: Could you talk a bit about the show—you don’t have to be familiar with the Brit comedy to follow along?
JG: No—not at all. And I think what’s great about this production is that if you are a “Pythonite,” you’ll love all of the jokes that are related to the movie because he pulls it straight from the movie and it’s just what you’d recognize. The musical numbers are really lovely and beautiful, and Our Lady of the Lake, which is a role that is not in the movie, is a really wonderful singer and actress who just steals the show with her beautiful voice. There’s a bunch of other stuff like the costumes and the sets that are totally not related to what Monty Python is.
CM: Tell us about the characters you play in SPAMALOT?
JG: I play Not-Dead-Fred, who is a man dying of plague who is not dead yet [laughs]. I play a Flying Nun and then I play Prince Herbert, who is a rather flamboyant young Prince in search of true love.
CM: The show is famous for its irreverence. Could you talk about some of the gay spoofs/storylines—if done right—the gay community loves to laugh at itself.
JG: Oh, absolutely. One of the numbers in the show called “His Name is Lancelot” is a very big “You Go To Rio” over-the-top dance-athon, kind of number which is really, really fun. I’m part of the gay storyline in the show as Prince Herbert and what’s actually nice about all of the gay stuff in the show is none of it is spiteful or hurtful and Herbert winds up very happy at the end. His father doesn’t want him to be gay and eventually has to relinquish and Lancelot (who Herbert falls in love with) and he get married. Which is what a lot of gays can’t do in the country right now—so it actually says something kind of nice for we gays out there.
CM: Last question—why do you think the show has enjoyed so much success?
JG: I think that right now people want something that they can laugh at and Monty Python is something that holds a mirror up to us. It’s like—this is the stuff that is really silly about you—so you can laugh at yourself when you watch Monty Python because there are scenes that have to do with everyday life. That mundane stuff that we might not think is funny—but the absurdity of it in our everyday life and shown to us in that mirror reflection—is very funny. Monty Python is something that everyone can enjoy and the musical is pretty light-hearted—and everybody loves musicals.
Monty Python’s SPAMALOT will play the Fabulous Fox Theatre, January 7-9, 2011. Performances are Friday at 8p.m.; Saturday at 2p.m. & 8p.m.; and Sunday at 2p.m. & 7p.m. Please visit www.fabulouusfox.com for current pricing information. Tickets are available at the Fox Theatre box office, all MetroTix outlets, or online at www.metrotix.com.
BY: COLIN MURPHY – SENIOR WRITER