Spamalot’s Tom steps into great aunt’s shoes

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When Portrush Music Society take to the Riverside Theatre stage at the start of December with their stunning production of the side-splitting hit musical Spamalot, there will be one member of the cast who has an extra special reason to be there.

Every musical is special to those who take part, but even more so when you have a personal connection to it.

This is the case for Portrush Music Society member Tom Waddell.

The award-winning musical Spamalot is based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Despite the Pythons’ frequent habit of playing older women characters themselves, in this film they brought in a real actress to play the Old Crone who meets Arthur in a dark and expansive forest.

This actress was none other than Tom’s great-aunt Bee Duffell and in Spamalot Tom is playing this very same part!

Bee was born in Belfast in 1910.

Both she and her sister (Tom’s grandmother) showed an early love for the theatre and by the 1930’s regularly appeared on the Belfast stage.

She was a founding member of the Ulster Group Theatre, which launched many successful careers including the like of James Ellis and James Young.

At the start of the fifties she moved to London, where she enjoyed success in many West End shows, including a spell as Mrs Boyle in The Mousetrap.

Having appeared on film in various supporting roles in the 50’s she was featured in the Titanic film “A Night To Remember” as Mrs Farrell in 1958.

During the sixties she appeared both on stage, TV and film including roles in Z Cars, The Prisoner, and François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.

The role of the Old Crone however would be her last one as she died shortly after the recording and before the release of the film.

When rehearsals for Portrush Music Society’s production of Spamalot began, Tom asked Director Kerry Dunn Kane especially for the role and he is delighted to be able to pay tribute to such a special and talented ancestor!

Monty Python’s Spamalot is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it differs from the film in many ways.

Spamalot retells the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and features a bevy of beautiful show girls, not to mention coconuts, killer rabbits and Frenchmen.

Many of the original characters from the movie are faithfully recreated such as the Knights who say “Ni” while new characters and other Python moments have been added to hilarious effect, including the classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Spamalot takes to the stage of the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine from December 1st - 3rd nightly at 8pm.

Tickets available online at Riverside Theatre. Please note that Spamalot contains some adult content and would not be suitable for children under 16.