Spamalot: Mark Boardman makes his West End debut in Monty Python musical

Monty Python’s SPAMALOT has played to sold out crowds at the Playhouse theatre and the role of SIR NOT APPEARING has been honoured to stars including Leigh Francis, Matt Johnson, Heather Small, Johnny Vaughan, Larry Lamb and many more names and so it was a pleasure to be asked to guest star for one night in the West end!

SPAMALOT: Eric Idle has a masterpiece on his hands having made his name as one of the stars from Monty Python. I was thrilled to be offered the chance to make my debut on a west end stage, albeit a small cameo appearance.

SPAMALOT cast pic
I was told that the role of Sir Not Appearing gets a laugh every night and they were right! Playing the role massively increased the respect I have to the actors and actresses in London’s West end. The precision of every expression, sound, word, piece of music and footstep is timed and rehearsed over and over to make it seem flawless to the audience (That’s behind all of the scene stage and drama that goes on)!

Although the part only has one word “Sorry” it comes 20 minutes in to the show during the first act once the knights all enter the stage and is one of many funny scenes.

Monty Python’s Spamalot tells the legendary story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as they journey through England in search of the Holy Grail, encountering a host of hilarious characters including killer rabbits and flatulent Frenchmen.

Having starred in several school productions many years ago I was very much looking forward to being part of the team; having seen dozens of shows myself in London’s West end, I was amazed at the way it felt like a big family backstage as the whole cast made me feel very welcome.

I had been asked to arrive at the stage door at 6.45pm and even before I had reach the entrance there were several people waiting at the door who were asking me about the show. I explained that I had never seen it before though was playing a little role that night. The American family seemed very excited to watch their first ever live piece of theatre in central London. After a little chat we said our goodbyes having said “Enjoy the show”. I then walked down the steps at the side of the theatre to meet the cast.

Being in front of a live audience can be very daunting, and the night I was stage (Wednesday 26th March 2014) there were an estimated 750 sitting in the audience. It felt very different to doing live TV which is a lot more nerve racking though much more exhilarating!!

Playhouse Theatre Entrance
Playhouse Theatre Entrance

Have met all of the cast and the good folk backstage (who made me feel very welcome including Matthew, Annie and Gareth)…There were loads more too! It’s just amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen!!

As I entered the Green room I could hear the main cast rehearsing ahead of that evening’s performance in the background. It was then I began to think of the amount of big stars who had been in there over the years; moments later Annie from the make-up department came in and said I would be wearing a fake moustache and comical beard (for the very first time) ever!! Before I donned the extra facial hair, I was then assisted in putting on the amazing knights costume (not available in the high street) which consisted off knee length black boots, a grey under T-shirt, baggy trousers, body armour, wrist and shoulder pads, besides a hat and MC Hammer styled shorts.

Mark Boardman as sir not appearing SNA in spamalotMark Boardman in full costume backstage

After being mic’d up, I had the moustache and fake beard glued on in the dressing room. Soon after it was time to mingle with the cast again briefly as they went back and forth in the corridors before I was called to attend rehearsals.

The main cast were all in position and I watched in the wings as the professionals walked through the scene explaining that on the word “Aptly” is when I need to walk on boldly and do my part.

I followed behind the other knights who had each walked on stage briskly, placing their left hand on the knight’s right shoulder, facing the audience smiling momentarily before witnessing the knight before them walking on. As I was the final knight to walk on, the knight in front of me turned glanced round (as the others had done to the knights before) to see me standing there, wearing a different outfit to everyone else! It was then I had to turn to the audience shouting “Sorry!”, before marching off stage to a round of applause.

The cast on the night included Robin Armstong (King Arthur), Nikki Bentley (Lady Of The Lake), Michael Burgen, Jamie Tyler, James Bisp, Samuel Holmes, Rob Delaney, Adam Ellis, Chris Jenkins, Graham Newell, Matthew Russell Jones, Hannah Malekzad. I ahev to give a special mention to Robin Armstong who plays the lead character amazingly!! Also Nikki Bentley stepped up from her role as an understudy to play the Lady Of The Lake perfectly.

I heard the word “Manic” several times mentioned during the rehearsals as the cast were doing last minutes changes (due to several cast members) covering for others though clearly they were all used to the press of working in the industry.

As the musical began I stood from the side of the stage watching all the action. From the angle I was standing I could also see the audience looking on. The scenes were so funny the audience were laughing more than once every 30 seconds! As my scene was fast approaching I had to focus on the job at hand, my mic had been switched on and the narrator then said “Aptly” (My cue word to walk on boldly) to finish that part of the scene.

Once I had done my part, I was relieved to hear the audience burst out with laughter once again as I had nailed it! The crew congratulated me as I then headed back down to the make -up department to get my glued on facial hair removed and changed back into my normal clothes to watch the rest of the show from the audience.

View from the audience
View from the audience

Featuring a comedy score that includes He Is Not Dead Yet, the show is first class. Singing along to ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ at the end completed what was truly a evening to remember! Thanks for NeilReading PR for the opportunity.

Carley Stenson starred in Spamalot recently, here is our exclusive interview if you missed it first time round

Spamalot continues at the Playhouse Theatre for a final few weeks to book your tickets now!

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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