Michael Siberry: New King's on the Block
Australian-native Michael Siberry is an alumnus of England's Royal Shakespeare Company and made his Broadway debut in the RSC's revival of Nicholas Nickleby. He returned to Broadway as Gratiano in the Dustin Hoffman and Sir Peter Hall production of The Merchant of Venice. His roles in London have included Charles Surface in the School for Scandal, the Actor in The Woman in Black, Billy Flynn in Chicago, Oberon in A Midsummer Nights Dream; and Osbourne in Journey's End. Other performances in the US have included Baron Von Trapp in the Broadway revival of The Sound of Music; Shakespeare in The Frogs (Lincoln Centre); and Touchstone in As You Like It (London & US Tour).
Between hunts for the Holy Grail and calculating the distance a swallow can flying whilst carrying a coconut, Michael Siberry found a moment to chat with BroadwayWorld about his time performing the gilded role in the hyperbolic (and supremely comical) Kingdom of Camelot...
Eugene Lovendusky: Congratulations; you're 4-weeks in since putting on the Broadway crown... How's it feel?
Michael Siberry: It feels great. I'd been doing it on the road for just over 2-years and it's great being on Broadway - coming into town. Different from the road company, but there are a lot of people here now whom I performed with on the road, so it's very nice. I'm feeling very much at home.
Eugene: After two years, King Arthur's definitely "in" you, so to speak. How did you get involved with Spamalot in the first place?
Michael: I was in England doing a play called Journey's End, and the Spamalot producers asked me to audition for the London production. When they realized I had a green-card (because I've come backwards and forwards to America quite a bit over the years) they asked if I wanted to tour. I thought it would be a fantastic way to see the country! I said "Yeah" and it's been the greatest trip I can imagine. Most people who come from overseas spend their time in New York or the West Coast, so it was just an opportunity to see places I've never seen.
Eugene: You've probably seen more of this country than I have!
Michael: Yeah, everything! When I watch television now, I see places I remember and have visited. I finished the tour, came back to New York, and they asked me if I wanted to do it here for a spell.
Eugene: How is settling in The Shubert Theatre different from being on the road?
Michael: It's not that different, other than being in a new place every couple of weeks. Some cities we sat-down for quite a while... But the biggest difference is the feeling of being home, raher than shifting location. I loved the tour but I'm enjoying this.
Eugene: You're a lucky guy... thanks in part I'm sure because of your relationship with Director Mike Nichols...
Michael: Well, they're a really great creative team. We first came-together to do the tour; that was the first production outside the original Broadway show. Now there's one in England, there was one in Vegas, there was one in Australia and I think they're mounting one in Germany... Mike and [choreographer] Casey Nicholaw were very good at saying: "Don't just make it an impression of Monty Python. You've got to put yourself in it or it doesn't work. Respond to it the way you respond to it." They were very clear that was the only way it was going to work. Subsequently, we became a very good ensemble. Mike knows how to make things funny, and what works and what doesn't. It's great to work with someone like that.
Eugene: How familiar were you with Monty Python beforehand?
Michael: Oh, I grew-up with it! I went to school in Australia when it first came out. We never really understood it, but we'd never seen anything like it, so we kept watching it. And the next day, you'd go back to school, and say: "Did you see it?" It was so different and so bizarre, but absolutely riveting. Everyone watched it. And then the movies came out. Of course it was great to work with Eric Idle and John Du Prez, who wrote the music for the movies and television - and of course new songs for the musical. A lot of their musical numbers were set-pieces to begin with, like show-tunes, albeit crazy.