The Night We Got a Bit Part in SPAMALOT, at the Playhouse Theatre!
When I originally set up This Little Lady back in 2009, the aim was to talk about all the fun things to do in London. I wanted to find out as much as I could about events in this city, from the most exclusive to the free festivals and exhibitions, and share the love with anyone who was kind enough to pay the site a visit.
There was no long-term agenda. I didn’t expect things to go the way they have. Now, I’m blessed to have been invited to a whole host of mind-blowing events thanks to TLL and as often as I can, I still try to arrange reduced entry, or some free tickets for you. But sometimes, we’re invited to do something so special in the name of fun that I can hardly believe our luck. And last night was one of those times.
Unbelievably, we managed to wangle a walk-on speaking part in SPAMALOT!
The real one.
In the West End.
How fantastic is that?!
Let me explain. A few weeks before Christmas, one of my lovely contacts, who represents the show, got in touch and asked if we’d like to be involved. Immediately, of course, I wanted to jump at the chance, but with my health being so pesky, I could not guarantee that I’d be well enough on the day…so I had to decline the offer for myself. BOO. However, knowing that my boyfriend James would absolutely LOVE the opportunity, I arranged for him to take my place and go on stage and for me to be in charge of the camera.
Somehow, I managed to keep the surprise until Christmas Day, when I handed him a box with this image inside…
It may have had a little to do with the drinks we had on Christmas Eve, but initially, JW didn’t realise he’d be “starring” in the show, and thought we had tickets to see it instead. After a little bit of an explanation – his face lit up and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy.
Cut to last night. We arrived at the stage door of the Playhouse Theatre promptly at 6.50pm, and were ushered through to the wardrobe and dressing room areas for the show. We hadn’t been told too much about what was happening on the night (I knew a little more than he did, but was keeping quiet), so the anticipation was building. The buzz backstage was amazing – people running around, sleeping on boxes (true story), practicing their scales, stretching, laughing. I could see James getting excited and I was over the moon for him.
We were brought into wardrobe, where James was fitted for his costume. He’d been asked to be clean shaven, and now it became clear why. He was to be dressed in pantaloons and fake armour, with a delightful hat, fake twirly moustache and pointy beard. Magnificent!
After the fitting, we had the pleasure of chatting with the star of the musical, Stephen Tompkinson. What struck me immediately was how full of passion he is for the show. You may think that working on the same production day and night for so many weeks takes the shine off a little, but Stephen was so enthused about the writing, the cast, the crew and everything Monty Python related, it made us even more excited for the performance. When asked how he came to be in the production, he explained that he’d mentioned to his 12 year old daughter Daisy, who is also a huge fan of The Holy Grail film, that he was in talks about appearing in the show. “That would make me SO proud, Dad” she replied. And the rest, as they say…was history!
Next, we were taken up to the stage for a rehearsal – and that’s when it hits you. We were standing on a theatre stage in the West End, staring out at the hundreds of empty seats that would soon be packed with eager faces. Final preparations are being made all around you. Sets are being lowered into place, sound levels tested. Suddenly, Stephen and some of his fellow actors came bounding on to the stage to join us and to go through James’ scene. He got it straight away and everyone disappeared again, off to wardrobe or make up or wherever they had to be, while we took advantage of the empty stage for a few more photographs.
One final visit to wardrobe later, James was fully in costume and I was off into the audience to enjoy the first act, while he waited in the wings for his big moment. The show began and I found myself laughing out loud at the silliness, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax properly until he appeared. 20 or so minutes in, The King (Stephen) came on to introduce his Knights of the Round Table…Sir Robin, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gallahad…and Sir NotAppearing – James! With a guilty look and a loud “SORRY!”, his part was done, and he got a huge laugh from the audience which was great.
We met at the interval (he was back in his own clothes, thank goodness) and he joined me in the audience for the second act. The musical just gets funnier as it goes on, with some perfectly timed current jokes thrown in which had the audience in tears, and some stellar singing of some new, and other instantly recognisable songs. (Stephen had said he could “hold a tune – but is MUCH better than that! And nothing will prepare you for the brilliance of Anna-Jane Casey, who plays the Lady of the Lake. Her voice is simply sensational).
I absolutely loved the night, and I know James did too. The cast are BRILLIANT, and everyone we met was incredibly friendly and helpful, which made it all the more special. Eric Idle’s writing is of course, outstanding, and the whole show is an absolute riot.
Unfortunately, I can’t arrange for everyone to have a walk on part in the show…but if you want to laugh until your sides hurt, enjoy a brilliant night out at the theatre and see some first class performers get it just right, please book tickets for Spamalot now.
I can’t explain just how lovely it all is. People of all ages can enjoy the show…there’s plenty of toilet humour, motor-boating of a nun, some wonderful dance numbers and many an invisible horse. What more could you want?
Spamalot is at the Playhouse Theatre, near Embankment Station and the initial 6 week run has been extended indefinitely. The part of Sir Not Appearing is often played by guests actors and celebrities. Book your tickets for the show here.
You’re in for a memorable night!
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