EXCLUSIVE: TALKING ‘SPAMALOT’ WITH JIMMY SMAGULA

Spamalot

Jimmy SmagulaJimmy Smagula is relishing his final weeks at the Round Table.

As Sir Bedevere in Spamalot—the uproarious and hilarious musical based on the 1975 cult classic film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”—Smagula is putting his own comedic stamp on the Arthurian legend. Full of hijinks, adventure, slapstick humor, and catchy songs that’ll stay in your head long after the last curtain drops, this Broadway revival of the beloved show is sure to be a deeply memorable and fun experience for both lifelong Pythonites and those who have no idea what they’re getting into.

Having been part of this production since its premiere at The Kennedy Center all the way through its Broadway closing next month, Smagula connected with me on all things Monty Python, his advice for aspiring thespians, his upcoming turn in the film “Joker: Folie À Deux,” and much more!

How is Sir Bedevere different from any other character you’ve played before?

What I love most about Bedevere is his unwavering optimism. He believes he has the fix to any problem the group might be facing. He just can’t execute the fix. I think it’s what the audience connects with the most about him. Connecting with a character’s optimism is a real gift from the writer and I think that is different than most people I have played in the past.

What was your relationship to Spamalot and/or Monty Python prior to joining this cast?

Before joining Spamalot, I was not very familiar with Monty Python. Once I was cast in the Kennedy Center production, I was delighted to discover “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and watched it several times. It’s truly a genre of comedy unto itself!

Speaking of The Kennedy Center, you’ve performed in numerous shows there in addition to Spamalot—including The Music Man and Guys and Dolls. What is it about this space that keeps drawing you back?

Working at The Kennedy Center is always absolutely magical. A lot of that stems from our wonderful executive producer, Jeffrey Finn. He is also the lead producer of Spamalot on Broadway, and he approaches every production with such love and joy in his heart. He truly takes care of the cast and crew in a way that can be rare to find. Also, Washington, DC is an incredible city to spend time in. Just answering this question has me so eager to return!

Spamalot

One of the many things that makes Spamalot so funny is how much improv happens every night. How much do you get to do this and how does this creatively differ from working on something where you must strictly stick to the script?

It’s an absolute joy for all of us to be able to add our own spin on things here and there. Some of us get to do it more than others. The beauty is, the script is already so incredibly tight and funny, there isn’t ever too much of a reason to stray away from it.

Spamalot will have its final Broadway bow on April 7. What will you miss the most about this production and what memory from working on it will be dearest to you when you look back on it?

Spamalot has been the most special theatrical production I have ever worked on. We were only supposed to be at The Kennedy Center for 2 weeks. To have been a part of moving this show to Broadway is something that I will never forget. I love our cast and crew like family. Every single person who works on Broadway at the St. James Theater is not only at the very top of their game, but they are kind and happy at work. I will miss them all dearly.

You’ll be appearing in this fall’s highly anticipated musical sequel, Joker: Folie À Deux,” with Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga. What was your experience of working on this film like? What do you think fans can expect from it?

I had a wonderful experience working on “Joker: Folie A Deux.” Getting to work with Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips and Brenden Gleeson was an absolute game changer for me as an artist. I know that fans will not be disappointed in this sequel.

It was recently announced that “Joker: Folie À Deux” will contain at least 15 covers of very well-known songs, making it somewhat of a jukebox musical. Can you tease any of the songs audiences can expect to hear in the movie?

Legally, I cannot tease a single thing about “Joker: Folie À Deux”!

You’ve also appeared in television shows like Black Monday, Doom Patrol, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community, Better Things, and Grey’s Anatomy, to name a few. In your experiences, what are the biggest differences between acting on camera vs. on the stage?

I find that there are many, many differences in working on camera than on stage. The first being, on camera, you don’t have the instant gratification of a live audience. You really have to trust your director on a film. When you are on stage, the audience will tell you immediately if something is working or not. There is also an internal intensity to working on camera that feels different than working on stage.

As someone who made his Broadway debut at 24 (in The Full Monty) and has continued to have an illustrious theater career ever since, what advice do you have for young performers who are hoping to see their names in Broadway Playbills one day?

Be the best version of YOU that you can be. Don’t try to be “like” anyone else. Sing songs that light you up. Keep your blinders on and worry about yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s path is very different in this business. Your time will come if you work hard and keep going!


CLICK HERE to get your tickets to Monty Python’s Spamalot, now playing on Broadway at the St. James Theatre through April 7, 2024.

Spamalot

PHOTO CREDITS | Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

About ALEX KELLEHER-NAGORSKI 171 Articles
Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. As the Theater Editor, he focuses on all aspects of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, and beyond. Alex lives in Western Massachusetts and can be found on Twitter at @AlexKNagorski.