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ONTARIO: Monty Python co-founder makes surprise Stratford appearance

Eric Idle called the Stratford Festival's rendition of his show 'Spamalot' wonderful after showing up at the Saturday performance

Lezlie Wade, the director of this year’s Monty Python's Spamalot at the Stratford Festival, had previously gushed to StratfordToday about her adoration for Monty Python. 

She had a memorable evening on Saturday then, when she came face-to-face with Spamalot creator Eric Idle. 

Idle was in Stratford this weekend to watch the festival’s rendition of his hit, worldwide show, surprising many audience goers when he jumped on stage after the production and joined the cast in an impromptu-rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side.

It was a surprise to some of the cast as well, as Wade shared. 

“Some knew when he was coming and some chose not to,” she said. “When he jumped on stage I think he gave some of the audience a fright … It was very special.”

Special and surreal. The production, for a time, was unsure if the Python would be able to attend the production, though as the season got underway they were told he would be coming. 

Some cast members chose not to know when or what show he would see, but after the show Idle got a chance to meet the cast and production.

Wade had her own special and surreal moment, when she went for dinner with Idle and his companions.

Describing it reverently as “the weirdest thing ever,” at one point Wade was directing Spamalot and at another she was sitting across from him. Idle shared stories about the Pythons, odd tales about hawks in his garden with snakes in their talons, and the show. 

Overall, it is an evening Wade will never forget. 

“It was surreal,” Wade said. “I’m walking to the theatre to see Spamalot, which I’ve directed, with Eric Idle.”

As it happens, Wade was able to meet another Python, John Cleese, in November as well, a complete coincidence when she was workshopping another project in New York City. 

“I’m gonna have a Python-wall in my office,” Wade joked.

Spamalot started pre-production way back in 2019. To be able to see that work come to fruition now, and to hear the writer of the show praise her work, was heartwarming. 

“Really lovely,” she said. “It’s been a labour of love.”

Idle himself didn’t keep quiet about the show. Praising Wade and the production, he called his evening fabulous, the cast great, and the production wonderful. 

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Connor Luczka

About the Author: Connor Luczka

Connor comes to the Festival City as a reporter for StratfordToday. Originally from London, he is a graduate of Western University and Fanshawe College with experience in print, web, and broadcast journalism
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