Monday, September 7, 2015

Spamaot costumes get some loving care.

I went to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater (12 E Rollins St, Orlando, Florida), to sketch the preparations for the upcoming production of Spamalot. At the entrance to the theater, the giant Trojan Rabbit held a Spamalot banner. Jeff Ferree who built the bunny, works in the scene shop and advised me on the sketch options. He was working on a series of four inch deep wooden clouds that will illuminate thanks to a string of old fashioned big bulbed Christmas lights. It was a daunting job with the all the graceful jig saw cuts needed. He showed me the set which was insanely colorful and over the top like a Las Vegas production. The entire proscenium was surrounded by large bulbs like a marquee.

Jeff told me that all the costumes were rented from the national tour of the show. He walked me to the costume shop and that is where I settled. All the costumes suffered from constant wear and tear and close to a dozen seamstresses were at work repairing the damage. Each costume had to also be adjusted to fit the actors. Twice actors came in to have their measurements taken. I was graciously set up at a table near the air conditioning unit and I was warned that when it kicks on it can be quite loud. I was deep into the sketch when it burst to life. I almost jumped out of my skin.

Jeff searched the costume shop on a quest to find the golden crown worn by Tim Curry in the original Broadway production of the show. Unlike King Arthur, his quest was a success. With some coaxing he got me to wear the sacred coronet. The original  Broadway show opened in 2005. The book and lyrics are by Eric Idle and the music is by John Du Prez and Eric Idle The production won the Tony Award for Best Musical and was nominated for 14 Tony Awards. The final performance was in January of 2009. After 35 previews and 1,575 performances; it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million, recouping its initial production costs in under six months.

The Lady of the Lakes wears the gorgeous green gown with the sea shell shaped bustier.  An artificial leg sat on a table encased in armor. This clearly must be the leg of the dark knight who looses his leg in a sword fight only to claim it as a flesh wound. An armored breast plate stood next to the leg. A hole was later plumped to some flexible PVC tubing which I suspect will be used to spew blood. On the table next to me, an artificial head wore a knights helmet. A bulky shoulder piece had loose tubing and meaty viscera in the gaping neck wound. I believe this knight fell pray to a killer rabbit attack.

A delicate white gown was covered in sequins requiring hours of intricate repair. A multi layered garment with a rainbow of ruffly frills turned out to be vivacious and bouncy sleeves worthy of Carmen Miranda. Clearly this is not a show about subtly. The title of the play comes from a line in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "We eat ham, and jam, and Spam a lot."

The Orlando production of Spamalot opens on September 9th and runs through October 11th.  Be sure to get your tickets now. I suspect many performances will sell out.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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