Killer Bunnies and Comedy In King Arthur's Court

King Arthur (Michael Siberry) and servant Patsy (Jeff Dumas) in
King Arthur (Michael Siberry) and servant Patsy (Jeff Dumas) in "Monty Python's Spamalot." (By Joan Marcus)

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By Lisa Traiger
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, June 9, 2006

Chicago actor Jeff Dumas has the ignoble honor of playing Patsy, King Arthur's loyal servant/horse in the national touring company of "Monty Python's Spamalot," which is, as they say, lovingly ripped off from the 1974 classic movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The musical comes from the slightly twisted, sometimes obnoxious mind of Pythonite Eric Idle, featuring music and lyrics by Idle and John Du Prez. Eight-time Tony winner Mike Nichols directs.

You are on tape so anything you say can and will be used against you. First of all, do you eat Spam a lot?

I've actually had Spam. In fact, I've even had spam sushi. And it's really good. I was a little leery at first. Some guy brought it to a show one time, and it was gone in 20 minutes. If you don't think about the fact that it's called a "pork product," if you can get past that, then it's actually not that bad.

What's it like playing second fiddle to an armless, legless knight and a bumbling King Arthur?

Well, gosh. I gotta tell you, it's not fun. Nobody wants to come in second next to an armless, legless guy, and half the time I'm dragging that King Arthur (Michael Siberry) from one location to the next. He's more like baggage than anything else.

I understand that you carry coconut shells. What's that about?

I use them to make the horses' hooves sound because the company's too cheap to spring for a real horse.

What's the deal with the Killer Rabbit?

It's terrifying. And it's barely 15 feet away from us. It's got big, sharp, pointy teeth. Believe me, it's not something that I'd recommend to anyone to feed or pet or get close to in any way really.

But what about the stuffed Killer Bunnies on sale in the lobby?

Yes, we do sell Killer Bunny puppets, and we also sell the Killer Bunny slippers. And the slippers are just as terrifying, but they're very comfortable as well. Backstage in my dressing room, I don't often have time to walk around in my Killer Bunny slippers and "Spamalot" robe because I'm usually onstage. I'm right behind Arthur for the entire show.

That's right, I noticed that you're right up there with Arthur when he sings his solo, "All Alone." That must be a proud moment for you.

It is a proud moment, but as usual, I'm the one who's all alone. Talk about second fiddle. I'm with the guy for two hours every night, and he still thinks he's all alone.

Final thoughts?

I think this will go down in my career as the first and last time in a show that I get hit by a flying cow. It's been a really good experience that way -- being dragged around, falling, tripping, and then getting a cow thrown on you.

Monty Python's Spamalot National Theatre 800-447-7400 Through July 9


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