On December 3, 2013, I began the journey of creating Sir Lancelot (and other characters from Monty Python’s Holy Grail) for Playhouse on the Square’s production of Spamalot. Thankfully, I had about three weeks to collect myself after the initial excitement of learning I got the part (as my dance audition was quite a spectacle). I also had to process the fact that I would be working with some of Memphis’s finest stage talent.
Because of the show, I have been away from my blog either in rehearsals or studying my music/lines but am now available to share the experience (a semi-behind-the-scenes-look, if you will). Sorry about that.
After 2 weeks of music rehearsals, the cast and I spent the next month learning blocking and choreography.
I was so nervous at the beginning of the process. Will I be funny? Will I live up to the director’s expectations? Will I remember my left foot from my right foot? Even though this was hardly my first experience at the rodeo, I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the caliber of talent with which I would be collaborating. I learned quickly, though, that if you want to do what you enjoy, it’s best just to let go and dive in.
The role of Sir Lancelot apparently requires a “strong character actor” because the actor also plays the Knight of Ni, the French Taunter, and Tim the Enchanter (one of which required a daunting and record-breaking quick change). This is the first show where I was required to mask my strong Southern accent under a British, French, and Scottish accent.
When I was 10, I played Louis Louis Leonowens in a production of The King and I. I didn’t know how to use an accent back then, but when I read my line, “Mother, the prime minister is naked” like a character from Honey Boo Boo, the director stopped laughing at me long enough to hire a dialect coach to teach me how not to say “nekkid.”
Thankfully, I have been able to hold onto some of this training for my role.
A highlight of the show, for me, was the hot, young men dancing amongst me in the “Lancelot” number. Exposed stomachs. Bulging crotches. Tight leggings.
The compromise was paid, however, by having to stand before large audiences in form-fitting leggings and an obscenely large cod-piece (literally donned in gay apparel).
Since I am not aware of what the words “dignity” and “shame” mean, I didn’t have a problem with it.
I once asked the director if he had any final pointers or notes before our first performance, and he replied, “Just have fun.”
That is the best and simplest summation of my experience: having fun.
There was only one person in the cast that I disliked (and he knows who he is…and if you are reading this A.W., know that I still hate you), but other than that, I think we all had fun because we shared the same goal: make people laugh. We weren’t performing surgery or launching a rocket into space. Just having a good time. I strongly believe that we were a unified front in our mission.
But I’ll let the reviews speak for themselves (you can click on the author’s name to view their full review):
- “It’s difficult to imagine a better cast than the one Ferguson has assembled to sit around the round table.” – Chris Davis (although I am mentioned in the article as an actor “who popped up in the porn movie musical Debbie Does Dallas returns as Sir Lancelot and a spooky necromancer” while other cast-mates received comments about their versatility and perfection – but I’m not bitter or anything – love ya, Chris).
- “Perfectly cast and equally superb in their performances, they are: David Foster, Jordan Nichols, Ryan Kathman, Cary Vaughn and Jonathan Christian.” – Caroline Spotso
- And most of us won’t really forget the parody review from Jon Sparks where he stated that, “‘Spamalot’ is silly, offensive and outrageously funny.”
After the final curtain call on February 16, 2014, I will miss:
…at least one person in the audience gasping when I whack Not Dead Fred in the head with a shovel. Some just seemed genuinely stunned by this.
…being allowed to prance around in a “cod piece” and “form-fitting leggings” without drawing unwanted attention from law enforcement officials.
…watching the audience participate in the sing-along at the end of the show.
…having two dressers clothe me between each costume change (let’s face it, I love the attention, but boy do those two bust their butts during every show).
I would gladly trade Partner’s cat, Elvis, for the chance to do it all again.
Because as someone with below-average social and communication skills (seriously, don’t try to have a conversation with me as it will get awkward pretty quick), it is a blessing to have an outlet that incites joy and laughter from people you’ve never met. To me, laughter is the greatest natural feeling you can ever experience, and it is an honor that this theater gave me the opportunity to provide it.
It was certainly the show that went like this.
You only have one more weekend (February 13 – 16) to catch Spamalot at Playhouse on the Square. Click here to order tickets online, but do it fast as there is a pretty good chance they will go quickly.