That time I was in SPAMALOT!

Starring as ‘Sir Not Appearing’

Sir Not Appearing!

[click to embiggen]

This past week, thanks to a rather awesome Christmas present from the girlfriend, I was given the chance to appear in a cameo role in the current West End run of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT!

AND.

IT.

WAS.

AWESOME.

Looking back on it now, a good four days later, I still can’t believe it happened! It’s difficult to communicate (using just the written word) how great the whole thing really was. So it’s a good job I took a load of pictures to help me tell the story!

Part 1. Arriving at the Stage Door
The crew greeted us warmly, and were just super super nice about EVERYTHING. ‘Hey! James is here!’ – ‘Is that the Sir Not Appearing?’ – ‘Yeah!’ – ‘Hey everyone! Our Sir Not Appearing is here!’

I turned up with literally zero knowledge of what I was going to be doing or what my line was (didn’t I mention? It was a speaking part too!) as I was kept in the dark right up until arrival. So this whole ‘Sir Not Appearing’ thing? I had no idea what they meant…

The stage manager met us and explained everything:

There’s a part in the play, around two thirds through the first act, when the narrator, after King Arthur has rounded up his men, reads through the names of the Knights of the Round Table… and the last name he reads is ‘the aptly named ‘Sir-not-appearing-in-this-play’. You come on at that point, you say ‘Sorry!’ and then you leave. Easy! Don’t worry, we’ll be rehearsing at around 730pm, plenty of time!

Any fan of the original Monty Python and the Holy Grail knows that this only a slight variation on the film’s script:

NARRATOR: The wise Sir Bedevere was the first to join King Arthur’s knights, but other illustrious names were soon to follow: Sir Launcelot the Brave; Sir Galahad the Pure; and Sir Robin the Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Launcelot who had nearly fought the Dragon of Agnnor, who had nearly stood up to the vicious Chicken of Bristol and who had personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill; and the aptly named Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Film. Together they formed a band whose names and deeds were to be retold throughout the centuries, the Knights of the Round Table.

Part 2. Costume!

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[Note – for reasons that will become clear very shortly, I had to shave off my beard. I look about 12yrs old! ARRGH!]

3. Meet the star!
For this run (initially scheduled for a limited six week run but now, thanks to its popularity, on an indefinite extension) of SPAMALOT! King Arthur is played by the one and only Stephen Tompkinson.

And what a bloody nice bloke he is too.

Me and Stephen Tompkinson

Part of the evening’s plan (aside from being a special guest star (ahem, yes – that’s me)) was to meet Stephen backstage and chat to him about all things Python. Again, something I didn’t know was happening until the night and again, something equally brilliant for me to do!

Things Stephen told me about Spamalot:

  • His daughter, with whom he has watched Monty Python’s Holy Grail several times a year, every years, since she was six years old, was the one to convince him to take the role! ‘You’d make me so proud, Daddy!’ – she said to him. ‘How could I say no to that’ he said. Awww!
  • His rehearsal process was a mere ten days. TEN. DAYS. Mental. Alright that’s a pretty intense ten days, but still – I can’t imagine. Fortunately for Stephen, he is only one of two new additions to the cast (the other being the quite brilliant AJ Casey, as The Lady of the Lake) so the ensemble already in place not only welcomed him with open arms but also supported him every step of the way.
  • The name of the game [on this production at least] is Fun! That’s what the director told Stephen on his first night – ‘Just forget your troubles, get out on that stage and have a riot. The audience want to have fun with you, so just have a ball!’
  • This new [ish] version of the play is a lot more inclusive and open than it was in the Palace and is updated accordingly toΒ very current affairs – songs as well!

What a lovely chap. And there was still so much more to come!

4. Rehearsals

Rehearsing with the SPAMALOT gang :)

Again, another moment for the cast to be warm and welcoming. I got my part right first time, and they all cheered and whooped.. Ha! Just, brilliant.

5. Waiting!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIOLB3L_12g?rel=0]

6. Final adjustments
Hat, moustache, beard (yes, that’s right – I shaved my beard so I could wear a fake one, brilliant), mic, and a wish of good luck from the girl.

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Before showtime!

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7. The show!
Backstage the atmosphere was, how can I put it? Hilarious. Laughter, jokes, and merriment were spewing forth from everyone – and that was before anyone was on stage! It was such a great group of people to be around; they clearly loved their work very, very much and every single person who walked past whilst I was waiting in the wings stopped to wish me luck, before they themselves stepped out in front of 700+ people.

Just lovely, lovely people.

When my cue – ‘and the aptly-named…‘ – came I strutted out on stage and beamed at the audience – ‘…Sir-not-appearing-in-this-play!’

Sir Not Appearing!

In four beats: the knights looked at me, I looked at them, I looked back at the audience, and then came the line:

‘SORRY!!!’

And the next thing I knew, I was off again – to roars of laughter!

Exit stage right!

The audience’s reaction was great, and I was grinning from ear to ear.

I was [and still am really] utterly dumbfounded that the whole thing took place at all. I can’t believe it. It was just brilliant.

The team backstage told us that the role of ‘Sir Not Appearing’ is usually played by one of the ensemble however they often throw it open to special guest stars such as celebrities and/or comedians who can come on and kill with that role. In other words, for me to get the opportunity to do it was very special indeed.

Just. Wow.

And while I can’t guarantee that I’m going to be in it next time, I can 100% guarantee that seeing this play will make you laugh. A LOT. I laughed like a madman, both backstage during act one and then again when I joined the audience for act two.

Two last things to say before I finish this epic blog post –

First: Go and see Spamalot. Please. It’s AWESOME. Hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, and… and the cast just has so much fun. It would be unfair of me to mention the epic corpsing that took place during the Knights that say Ne segment, so I won’t. But I nearly died laughing.

Second: I have to say thank you to my amazing girlfriend, Jen, for managing to swing what is quite easily the Best. Christmas present. Ever. You rock x

 

 

Adventures in Soho Part 1: Me & Mrs JoJos

Soho isn’t my usual haunt. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

But – for some strange reason – since returning home from San Francisco – I have found myself in London’s Centre of Seediness three times in as many weeks!

“But why? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?!”

I hear you cry.

Well for the first jaunt to the ho of so you may have two clues….

Clue 1 – The picture above

Clue 2 – If you remember way back when I was telling you about the best conversation I ever had

There was a sentence that went a little something like this:

“Yeah man, I know. Then I’ve got my show on the Sunday at Madam Jo Jos!”

Well ‘my show’ was in fact not my show at all. More like Lisa Devaney’s Show. Actually. To be completely correct it was:

“Lisa Devaney’s Hee-Haw Whore House!”

How did I get involved? Funny story. AGES ago (and I mean AGES – like August last year) I got Blogtagged by my dear friend Helen Keegan. Which basically meant I had to write up eight random things about me.

Did that. Job done. Sorted.

Well, in March this year I get a call from one of a mutual friend, (Lisa), saying:

“James! I remember what you said in your blog post! Ya wanna be in my show!?”

“Err… Yeah! OK!”

At this point I remembered – item number five: “I studied at Drama School” – Bugger. All makes sense now!
Note – when writing blog posts, remember that ANYONE CAN READ THEM! πŸ˜‰

“Oh and by the way James, I need a Burlesque Dancer too… You don’t know any do you?”

“Err… Funny you should say that, my girlfriend is a burlesque dancer – I’m sure she’d love to get involved…”

“FANTASTIC! I’ll in be touch!”

Anywhoo, not soon after committing to this project, I discover that SpinVox need me in Las Vegas.
CTIA to be precise. I’ve been over this.

But what I haven’t been over is that when I landed back in Blighty on the Saturday afternoon I actually went STRAIGHT to rehearsals (suitcase an’ all!), worked for the afternoon, then went home, slept all night and all day and THEN went to Madam JoJo’s to perform (with some fantastic co-stars) The Hee Haw Whore House!
(and we were on first too dammit)

Hand on heart I didn’t publicise it as well as I could.

For a bunch of reasons really –
First and foremost I hadn’t been on the stage in over a year. Not that I was nervous (LIES) but I was just a bit anxious you see…

The last play I did was a Tacit Theatre Company production of
The Office Party.’

That’s me over there, in character ———>

Playing ‘Gavin Chapman, MD of ‘Chapman & Howard’

Anywhoo – yeah – that was back in February 2007 so I hadn’t done any real performing for AGES.

Plus, given the time constraints that we had, (what with me soddin’ off to Vegas and everything), we barely had time for two decent rehearsals…

TWO I TELL YOU. TWO!

So yeah. Anxious would be understating it.

All of that crap aside – I can’t tell you what a resounding success the night was. In all seriousness I doubt it could’ve been ANY better. We were up first and we gave the crowd such a riot it really helped warm the place up for every act that followed.. When I first trailed this post I said:

“I was in a cabaret show the other day. Must blog it.”

And I had every intention of doing a blog post on the events of the entire evening of performance etc… BUT!
I was beaten to it.

Lisa Devaney not only did a fantastic job of writing the piece, but she also did a fantastic job of reviewing it too!

I strongly recommend you go and have a read… if only to look at the pictures πŸ˜‰

See you back here real soon for Spending Time in Soho – Part 2.

Things to make and do…

So I’ve kinda got the blog-bug back again.

I don’t know why it’s back, or where it’s been etc…
All I know is that I’ve got a bunch of stuff I want to write up.

I could just mass-post the lot, like I did last time, but I think too much content is a bit of overkill.

So here’s just a quick list of things I’d like to write up:
(thanks to Mr Lloyd Davis for the photo too by the way)

  • I was in a cabaret show the other day. Must blog it.
  • The BBC interview I did. Must blog it, (properly).
  • Some general life things, 6mths with SpinVox etc.
  • The (self-imposed) T-Shirt Challenge
  • San Francisco (I covered Vegas already)

And I think that’s it…

I’m going to try and cram everything in over the coming days. But it won’t be more than one post a day… Can’t suddenly increase the words for my loyal readers!

Thanks by the way – whoever you are…

On that note. I’m painfully aware that only VOX members are able to comment on my posts. Which is kinda sucky. So I’m moving… not yet, but soon… to a decent blog-hosting page etc.

A good friend is helping me sort it out at the moment, once we’ve got the template finished, then starts the massive (again, self-imposed) job of consolidating.

I’ve been blogging all over the place for the best part of three years now. So I’m going to go way back to my very first blog and pool all my posts together under one roof…
Like a back catalogue see?

Cool. Expect that sometime before the Summer… (hopefully).
In the meantime – if you want to comment and you’re not a member of VOX, then just drop me a text and tell me what you think… my number is +447774898681.
Looking forward to hearing from you…

And finally…

I got my ticket to Glastonbury! Wheeee!

Kinda has some special resonance on this here VOX as Glastonbury was the reason why I started here, remember?

πŸ™‚

EDIT – This is a re-post from VOX so you’re looking at my new home now -Woo!

Life is good…

Yesterday I had one of the best conversations, EVER.
It was only when I had this conversation did I realise how good life actually is at the moment.
An old friend called me up and it went a little something like this…

“Hi James, s’been ages! How are you?”

“Me? I’m good man. Yeah, it’s been SO long! We should definitely catch up sometime soon.”

“Great idea, you free tonight?”

“No mate. Not tonight, going to see R.E.M. at The Royal Albert Hall.”

“Oh. Nice!”

“Yeah. I thought so. Random ticket appeared in my hands from up high. Can’t say no. Got a box and everything!”

“Cool! Ok, how about we do lunch one day this week? When are you in London next?”

“I think I’m in town tomorrow…”

“Ok, we’ll do lunch tomorrow. Sushi or something?”

“Oh. No. Can’t mate, sorry. Bugger. Got an interview at the BBC.”

“WHAT?!”

“Yeah! I know! Cool huh?! Rory-Cellan Jones, Technology Correspondent. Should be good!”

“Right then, the weekend? We could have a lazy pub afternoon on Sunday. A few beers, roast dinner.. proper Sunday y’know? How’s that sound?”

“No can do mate. I’m flying to Las Vegas on Sunday…”

“WTF?!”

“Yeah! Flying out with SpinVox on Sunday afternoon for a big Wireless conference called CTIA. Looking forward to it, should be cooool! Never been to Vegas before….”

“Ok ok ok! When do you leave Vegas?”

“Thursday…but…”

“Ok! We’ll go out Friday!”

“No, I didn’t finish. Thursday I fly to San Francisco to host a lunch for some west coast bloggers… Fly home Friday night. Land Saturday afternoon.”

“Jeez, you’re gonna be knackered!”

“Yeah man, I know. Then I’ve got my show on the Sunday at Madam Jo Jos!”

“Right then. I’ll come see that then.”

“Hehehe… Yeah! Ok, do that!”

πŸ™‚
On top of ALL that, found out today one of my dear friends (who has NOTHING to do with the mobile industry) just so happens to be in Vegas at exactly the same time as me!
So we get to hang out and stuff which is just all kinds of cool…

This, by the way, isn’t some massive brag of a blog post. Life is going well at the moment. And I’m loving it.
Had my 6mth review with SpinVox this morning.

SIX MONTHS!

It seems like only yesterday that I was handing in my notice at Refresh Mobile…

How times flies when you’re having fun eh?
Speak soon folks..

πŸ™‚

8 Random Things About Me – Blogtag!

My dear friend Helen – aka Technokitten – has just taken my Blogtag cherry… I say ‘just’…

Helen actually gave me a shout back in July, but I’ve been so sodding busy I just haven’t round to doing it…

However! As I’m off on my hols this week and I’m desperately trying to do anything BUT pack – I thought I might actually give this a go…

But first – here are the rules:

  • We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So – without further a do – here we go!

  1. I am a Hugger. A Free Hugger in fact. I own two ‘Free Hugs’ T-shirts, a ‘Free Hugs’ hat and I even have a few ‘Free Hugs’ badges that I give out on occasion. I bought my first shirt on a whim earlier this year and now wear it quite regularly – in fact – I even set up the facebook group – ‘Huggers Unite‘ – where I organise the odd ‘Free Hugs’ event around the streets of London… Why not join the group and come to the next one? I believe a hug can make you feel so much better. The first event we ever did in Covent Garden was only supposed to go on for an hour – but we were there the whole afternoon – one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.
  2. I’m a geek. No really. Not in the mobile sense like you’re all thinking right now. But in the “I-own-comic-books-and-I-collect-the-figures-and-sometimes-I-don’t-even-take-them-out-of-their-boxes” kind of way. There. I said it. Ahem.
  3. I once fasted for seven days. That’s right. SEVEN DAYS. Not a single morsel passed my lips for a week. Detoxing in Thailand at the Spa they have on Koh Samui. Changed my entire life. Everyone should do this at least once… It sorted my head out, put my career on track and as and an added bonus – I lost about two stone in weight!
  4. I used to be an accountant. Say. No. More.
  5. I studied at Drama School, (see above).
  6. I’m a gamer. I love Nintendo through and through and have owned pretty much every system they’ve produced at some point or another in their patchy history… I bought a Wii on day of release and people are STILL struggling to get their hands on them… This fact I like a lot. :o)
  7. I can dance like a Cossack. Like.. properly. Strange old family tradition. We can all do it. Are we Russian at all? No. But if you’re REALLY special and if I like you an AWFUL lot – then I may consider wheeling it out for you at your next party… for example – the wedding I went to at the weekend… my thighs are killing me now… aargh! Yeah – so don’t ever let me get involved in a dance off – (it’s been known to happen before).
  8. I’m a married man. Got hitched in June 2005 and it was all over by March 2006. The best part of it all? I wouldn’t change a single thing. Without it, I would not be person I am today… and anyone who knows me knows that I am one happy fella!

So who do I tag?

Well – I think eight random things about the following people would make a good read:

  1. My good friend (and new blogger) Will,
  2. Fellow Nintendo fan Neil,
  3. My Jaiku/Vox Nokian buddy Carol,
  4. New friend Melissa,
  5. Taptu demon Vero,
  6. Founder of Refresh Mobile – Scott Beaumont – link as soon as I have it (I know you’ve got a blog somewhere Scott), EDIT – Thanks Scott
  7. Good buddy and ex colleague of mine – Prash
  8. Aaaaaaaaand… last and by every means least – Mobile9 King: Abul. ;o)

By the way – the photo on this post? It’s a pic of eight random things that are closest to my desk!
A prize for the person that can name all eight…

EDIT – Scott came back with his link – it can be found here: http://scottbeau.blogspot.com and also – as for the picture prize competition – name as many as you can…

Prize goes to the person that gets the most right…

The Office Party

02:36 - The Office Party
Current mood: bouncy

Hey folks – see below for details about my next production!

:o)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come and see it!
It’s really quite good and I know for a fact that a few of the characters in this play are probably working in your office RIGHT NOW.
Hehehe…
This is the same group that I worked with back in November..
..and I can safely say that the standards set then will (hopefully) be exceeded now – would love you to come…

It is quite a good play, with a good cast and fantastic Director and I also know for a fact that most of you have probably worked with the some of the ‘characters’ that appear in this play…
Definitely!

I’m in it – I’m playing Gavin Chapman, MD of Chapman & Howard.
The Office in Question.

Click here to buy tickets for show…

Click here for a map to the Theatre…

Click here for a map to the party on the 9th – NOT the 8th as the poster says below… GRR!

Oh and also – if you can make the party on the 9th that would be even cooler than a snowman’s cool bits!

See below for more details!

Mystery Plays – The Nativity

Ladies & Gentlemen –

I know – my blogging skills have been somewhat lacking of late – but I’ve been acting dah-ling!

On that note…

Short notice I know but…

Next week I am appearing in another play (no more now ’til next year – promise!)

THE NATIVITY,
by Tony Harrison

At:
The cornerHOUSE:
Wed December 6 to Sat December 9.

About the Play:
A company of local actors, singers and musicians are bringing a unique theatrical experience to the cornerHOUSE in Tolworth from December 6.

Collectively known as The Cloud Factory Theatre Company, they will be presenting

The Nativity – the first part of ‘The Mysteries’ trilogy – by poet and
playwright Tony Harrison.
It was first performed in the early 1980s at the
National Theatre, to rave reviews, although its roots go back many hundreds of years.

The script is based on the mediaeval Mystery Plays, which were performed in the streets of many English cities and not only gave ordinary people their first taste of theatre, but also brought the Biblical stories to life as never before.

The Nativity captures the flavour of these open air performances – not only through the rich, poetic language, but also in the fact that it is performed ‘in promenade’. In other words, the audience will be led around the cornerHOUSE, with scenes unfolding all around them.

The production also features a live folk band, who are recreating the
original musical score – a rare event in itself, for it was created by a
band, led by top folk musician John Tams, who played by ear. Nothing was ever written down, and it survives only in recordings.

The Nativity takes you on a journey into the past, from the creation of the world through to the birth of Jesus, blending comedy and tragedy, song and dance, and Christian and ancient English traditions in a way that is totally unique. It promises to be a memorable theatrical experience.

Details:
Performances: from Wed December 6 to Sat December 9.
Doors open 7pm. The show begins at 7.30pm.
Tickets cost Β£7 (Β£5 concessions).
To book, call 07949 800929 or email cloud-factory@hotmail.co.uk

Please email me back if you don’t know where this place is – or failing that – check here:
http://www.thecornerhouse.org

A bit from me:
This play is unlike anything I’ve ever been in before and will be very different (I’m sure) to anything you’ve seen before – it’s a lot of fun and if manage to make it along I’m sure you’ll have a fun evening… The cast are great and the live band really adds to the whole atmosphere of the piece…
Those of you that came to see me in Mum’s Legs/Alone earlier this year – this production is at the same place…
(so you know where you’re going!)
Those of you who came to see me in Our Country’s Good – this production is NOT at the same place – it’s a bit further on past Kingston, through Surbiton and nearly into Tolworth – a 281 from Twix will sort you out no bother!

Email/Text/Call me if you have any questions etc…
Obviously – this is extremely late notice and it’s my own fault for leaving it so late for posting this blog so if you can’t make it I’ll understand – but if you can – then WHOOPEEEEE!
I’ll see you there!

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