How did you end up in Spamalot?
It was actually a big surprise to me. I had always wanted to see the show but had never been in the right place at the right time. So I sort of just gave up on it. And then [my agent was] talking to one of the people who was associated with the production about another show that we might have gotten together to do. And he said, “By the way, there’s about a two-and-a-half-month gap in our kingship on the road. Would Richard be interested in playing Arthur?” I said, “Absolutely, I would love to.”
It’s wonderful. It’s like being free. It’s like being let loose into the air, this poor caged balloon sailing up into the stratosphere. I happen to be rather irreverent and silly myself, so the show appeals to me greatly. And I love Arthur. He’s such a pompous innocent. He thinks he’s king, but nobody else has ever heard of him, and he keeps getting busted.
As long as I didn’t have to carry the show. If I was this wacko, interesting person who appears now and then, I would love to do that.
Being gay in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s was the worst possible thing you could imagine being in terms of what the public thought of it. And you absorb that by osmosis. I felt there was something terribly wrong with me, even though I was very successful, had some wonderful friends and a marvelous relationship. That didn’t totally lift until I was about 68.
Yes, more than ever before in my life. It’s taken decades and decades of work — spiritual stuff, psychiatric stuff, just plain living and all that. Finally, I suddenly feel released into just being me, which is a wonderful kind of freedom. I say, “Better late than never.”
Monty Python’s Spamalot runs March 31 through April 5 at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre. Tickets are available for $27.50 to $77.50. Visit playhousesquare.com to purchase tickets and for more information.