In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of The Port Tobacco Players’ Spamalot – meet Jimmy Payne.
Tell our readers where they may have seen you on local stages.
Little Theater of Alexandria: 1776 (John Adams), Shenandoah (Charlie Anderson). The Arlington Players: Ragtime (Tateh), Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye), Follies, (Ben), Guys & Dolls (Nicely Nicely), The Most Happy Fella (Tony), Kensington Arts Theatre, Sunday In the Park With George” (Jules), Port Tobacco Players: The Producers (Max), and Assassins (Guiteau).
Tell us about the character you play and how you relate to him.
I play Arthur, King of the Britons. I relate to him because I’ve always wanted to be King. Mostly because I expect people to listen to everything I say, and do what I command them to do.
What has been the most fun playing him?
Definitely riding the horse, and spending so much stage time with Michael (Margelos, who plays Patsy), who has a wonderful and quite imaginative sense of humor. But most of all, it has been playing opposite my beautiful, and extremely talented wife, Carmel.
Have you appeared in any other productions of Spamalot, and if yes, who did you play and how is this production different?
This is my first Spamalot, although I ate a lot of Spam as a child growing up. Which, I think, explains a lot.
What has been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how did your director help you with these challenges?
The biggest challenge has been the very little dancing I’m required to do. Brooke has helped with this challenge by not laughing out loud when I try to dance. She has a wonderful amount of patience for people who are not quite at home dancing. I am not at home. I’m not even in the same State as home is.
What is your favorite song in the show that someone else sings and why?
“Whatever Happened To My Part?” It’s sung by my wife, Carmel, playing The Lady of the Lake. It’s been a few years since she has been able to be in a show, and this song lets her show off the flexibility, range, and power of her voice. It also has her alone on stage, which any singer will tell you is a scary and invigorating place to be. And she is absolutely knocking the song out of the park. And I am just thrilled to get to see it.
Which character in the show is most like you and why?
Arthur. He wants to give the sense that he is in charge, but he knows that is very far from the truth. He rides an imaginary horse that can run as fast and jump as high as Arthur’s imagination wants him to. He welcomes a quest of any sort, even though he knows it’s almost impossible to accomplish. And when he actually finds the Grail, he’s more surprised than anyone in the British Kingdom.
What do you admire most about your fellow cast members?
Their energy. Their willingness to go through countless quick wardrobe changes for what is sometimes just one joke, followed by another quick wardrobe change. Also, their friendliness and ability to lift your spirits whether you’re having a bad night, or you’re just plain tired. It’s an entirely wonderful group of players.
Why do you think Spamalot is still so popular?
For the same reason the movie was. It has the ability to stand reality on its head and expose it for the farce that it sometimes is. The only thing that is missing, sadly, is a pie in the King’s face. LOL.
Which costume in the show is your favorite and why?
This is a very difficult question to answer because there are many wonderfully imaginative costumes. But my favorite has to be The Lady of the Lake’s wedding dress. It’s a great color at the beginning, and then changes and becomes a really good punch line which I don’t want to give away to those who have not seen the show yet. So, now you must see the show to understand what I’m talking about. And when you do, will you tell me? Because I rarely know what I’m talking about.
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Spamalot?
Anything but my wallet. No really, just a smile and the desire to whistle.