Marin Mazzie
(© Joan Marcus)
Marin Mazzie
(© Joan Marcus)
Broadway star Marin Mazzie made her West End debut in the 2001 transfer of Kiss Me, Kate -- for which she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical -- and she's now returned briefly to London in Monty Python's Spamalot, taking over the role of The Lady of the Lake from Hannah Waddingham, who has stepped into her shoes in the same role on Broadway. She recently spoke to Kate Jackson of whatsonstage.com about this very special part and living in London for the second time.

KATE JACKSON: Where are you staying in London?
MARIN MAZZIE: I'm staying at a hotel in Westminster. It's the place I stayed when I did Kiss Me, Kate before I rented a flat. It's lovely and the manager remembers me. I wanted to go to where I know where the grocery store is and where things are in the neighborhood. I just thought it would make the transition as smooth as possible.

KJ: Why did you originally want to accept the role of The Lady of the Lake? Are you a Monty Python fan?
MM: I had seen the show in New York and I just thought it would be a lot of fun to do, and I was right. When I was a kid, I watched Monty Python because my brother loved it. I think it was more of a male-oriented thing. We used to sing the Lumberjack song all the time. That was the one we thought was the most hilarious, and I still think it's very funny. And the silly walk, oh my god. They have given us some wonderful comedy.

KJ: How did the transatlantic swap between you & Hannah Waddingham come about?
MM: I was leaving the Broadway show and they were going to bring Hannah over to replace me. I believe they needed an exchange for Hannah through American Equity and British Equity, so they asked if I'd come for the month to fill in before the Swedish reality show winner takes over that part in February. I thought it would be a good opportunity to spend a nice month in London.

KJ: What was your experience like in London in Kiss Me, Kate?
MM: It was weird because our second day of rehearsal was September 11, 2001. It was a very odd time to be away from New York. My husband, Jason Danieley, was still working on Broadway so it was obviously very difficult because of how horrible all of that was. But I enjoyed my time in London. And I felt very supported by everyone, not only our cast, but literally everyone in this city. I would get into a cab and go anywhere, and obviously they could tell I was American so they would give me their support. My husband ended up coming over and doing The Full Monty, so both of us were working in the West End at the same time. We really did enjoy living here very much.

KJ: What differences are there between the Broadway and West End productions of Spamalot?
MM: The whole story is that King Arthur has to find the grail. In New York, it's the grail on Broadway, so obviously in London it's the grail in the West End. That is one difference, which is mainly just a difference in lines. There are also certain technical differences. Certain lifts that I am on are smaller, and the stage is rigged in London, and it's not rigged in New York. But the biggest change is just doing it with people that I don't know.

KJ: What's your favorite number from the show?
MM: I love "Look on the Bright Side" because it's a turning point in the show, and I just think it's really funny. I also love the "Camelot" number, where everyone is going to Camelot. It's really fun having everybody on stage at the same time. It's quite hilarious, actually.

KJ: What's the funniest thing that's happened in your Spamalot run to date?
MM: One night in New York the lift stopped working. I make this big entrance on a lift coming out of the floor and one night it didn't come up so we were all just standing there. We were all ready and the music was going and we weren't moving. We had to run up the steps of the Shubert Theatre. I was following all the girls and hiking up my dress and trying to run up two flights of steps. I was so out of breath. We were thinking "oh my god, what do we do?" We got to stage right and sort of looked at each other and just danced on. It was very silly. Another night the boat that I get in to go downstage didn't even come on so we had to walk downstage without the boat. Little crazy things like that happen. That's why live theater is fun.

KJ: Do you have a favorite after-show haunt here?
MM: I love J Sheekey, which is not far from the Palace Theater. My husband and I are friends with David Suchet, and he used to take us to the Garrick Club, which was fun. I also go to Joe Allen's, both here and in New York.

KJ: If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be?
MM: Even though it's crazy silly, I've become fascinated with that Arthurian legend. So I would swap places with King Arthur or Lancelot or Merlin. I know they're fictitious but to swap places with a King or Queen or something like that, that would be great. I'm interested in history. It would be so interesting to see what the world was like in any other given time period.

For the complete interview with Marin Mazzie, as well as more London theater news, visit www.whatsonstage.com.