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Monty Python's Spamalot

Does it count as a spoof when you’re spoofing yourself?

“Monty Python’s Spamalot” is the musical version of the 1975 comedy classic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which followed King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on their hilarious quest for the Holy Grail. With the story updated for modern times by original Monty Python member Eric Idle, “Spamalot” won three 2005 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Director (Mike Nichols), and like the movie features a chorus line of dancing divas, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and a legless knight.

Actor Gary Beach knows a little about film-to-musical adaptations as well — he won a Tony Award in 2001 for his performance as theatre director Roger DeBris in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” which Brooks made as a movie in 1968. Now Beach is playing King Arthur in “Spamalot.” We caught up with Beach to ask him some silly questions; “I’ll try to answer as idiotically as possible,” he assured us.

After “The Producers” you did “La Cage Aux Folles” and “Les Miserables.” Are you happy to be back in a show that doesn’t have a French title?

[Laughs}. Yeah, I was thinking about changing my name to Pierre. After spending a year and a half in “Les Miz” it’s nice to be in a show with a lot of laughter.

Tell us what to expect from your Arthur.

Well he’s not quite your traditional King Arthur. My Arthur has trouble counting to three, and doesn’t need a horse to ride a horse.

There are scenes in the show that are improvised, sometimes involving audience members. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to someone during an improv?

It’s too early in the morning for that one. But last night here in Jacksonville one character broke out with the song “It’s great to be a Florida Gator” and the crowd went crazy. Well, most of them. We may have had some Florida State fans there as well.

You’ve been on national tours before, so tell me the hardest part about being on the road.

Laundry.

You’re King Arthur — shouldn’t someone do it for you?

Oh I try to arrange that, but every once in a while I have to.

Did you think “The Producers” movie did justice to the stage show?

Of course not, but I have no idea why not. It was great all through the test audiences – it tested higher than any movie since “Forrest Gump.” Then the critics saw it and it wasn’t funny anymore.

If you could choose one role in your career that you’d like to play again, what would it be?

I’m through with all of them actually. I’ve played a bunch more than once. I’ve played Thenardier in “Les Miz” more than once, and I’ve played Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast” on a number of occasions. I don’t want to repeat anymore. I’m enjoying moving on. Arthur is great – there’s no down side to it.

If you had to choose one person, who would be your favorite original Monty Python member?

John Cleese. Why? Because he’s funny. And he’s the voice of God.