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By David M. Straight
Special to The PREVIEW
If you’ve seen Thingamajig Theatre Company’s “Spamalot,” you know that it’s 120 minutes of laugh-out-loud performances.
Knights in tights searching for the Holy Grail sing and dance their way through obstacles too absurd for words. There’s plenty of references to Monty Python’s movies and even some local color thrown in for good measure.
You also may have noticed that there’s not an empty seat in the house. All but two of the “Spamalot” performances since its June 14 opening have been sold out.
“It’s sold well beyond our expectations,” said Laura Moore executive director of the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. “We’ve always encouraged advanced ticket sales, but with ‘Spamalot,’ we’ve had to add seats almost every night to accommodate our out of town patrons who are only available that night or weekend.”
From the start, Thingamajig Theatre Company knew that even if “Spamalot” was successful, they couldn’t extend the run. The costumes, rented from the original West End production, were scheduled to ship out to the Roxy Theatre in Tennessee on Aug. 12, just one day after their final scheduled performance.
“Every performance it critical. When we schedule a summer show, we count on a percentage of each seat sold for each performance into our budget,” said Moore.
Patrons who had one of those lucky tickets for “Spamalot” on Tuesday, July 2, were asked to reschedule their plans or were issued a refund. Artistic Director Tim Moore, who also plays King Arthur in “Spamalot” had planned on strapping on Excalibur and battling killer rabbits and searching for the Grail at 7 p.m. that night. Instead, he found himself in the recovery room having undergone emergency surgery.
“I felt pretty bad on Monday,” said Moore, “like I was passing a kidney stone, which I’d done four years earlier, but the pain I experienced was in the front instead of in my back, like the stone.”
At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Moore visited Dr. Nick Kurz (whose wife, Jodi, performs in “Spamalot”). “Dr. Kurz examined me and ordered a CT scan right away. He knew we had a show that evening and wasn’t taking any chances with something more serious.”
After a short trip to Pagosa Springs Medical Center, Moore received the CT scan just 30 minutes later. “I was literally leaving the parking lot of the center, maybe fifteen minutes after the CT Scan was complete, going to fill a prescription when Dr. Kurz called me and told me I needed emergency surgery for appendicitis. I kept thinking to myself, ‘If I go in for surgery at 3 p.m. I can be done by 5:30 p.m., and I can still make the show by 6 p.m.’”
Instead, Moore was admitted for surgery and told his recovery might require up to three day’s post-op time in the hospital and it could be up to three weeks before he would be fit for work — shutting “Spamalot” down until the first week of August.
“Fortunately for me the team at Pagosa Springs Medical Center were top notch. Dr. David Shaeffer, who performed my surgery, the team of nurses and all the staff there couldn’t have treated me better. We joked a bit about the situation and it really lightened the mood.”
Moore contacted his wife, Laura, and told her what was happening and to cancel the performance that night. After his surgery, members from the cast and Moore’s wife and son joined him at the hospital.
“I was ready to go. At least in my own mind. It was 6:03 p.m. and I asked the nurse to check me out so I could make the 7 p.m. curtain. She politely informed me that I needed at least one full day in recovery. It’s probably a good thing since the cast joked about my ‘excited state’ post-op and that I was swaying in bed like I was at sea. Pain management medication can really lead you to believe you can do anything, even when your body is asking for a break.”
The next day, Moore called Dr. Kurz and told him to tell his wife, “We’re on tonight.” Cleared by the hospital, Moore checked out on Wednesday and the show continued 11 hours after surgery. “Dr. Kurz sent me a message saying he was coming to the show that night. Having your doctor in the audience is a pretty great feeling should you decide to pass out or find out you’ve made a terrible mistake mid-show.”
The show went off without a hitch and has been running smoothly since.
“I owe my doctors everything. Dr. Kurz and Dr. Shaeffer literally saved my life, as a burst appendix during a show could have been deadly. They caught a bad situation waiting to happen and treated it with professionalism. I can’t adequately express my gratitude, but I can say that being back on-stage so quickly is a testament to their expertise and quality of care.”
So what do you do when you’ve still lost a performance?
Reschedule it, of course!
Thingamajig Theatre has added another performance on Saturday, July 27, at 7 p.m. of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” Tickets can be purchased online, at the box office or over the phone. Additionally, Thingamajig Theatre and Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts will have information about medical services and accept donations on behalf of Pagosa Springs Medical Center through their medical foundation.
“The medical center is currently campaigning to bring a digital mammography machine and program to Pagosa Springs and anything Thingamajig and PSCA can do to help this organization with that goal, we’re on board and targeting the funds from Saturday night to support that effort” said Moore.
In addition, patrons can catch a break, too. Making light of the situation, Thingamajig has offered a special promotional code for SUN readers when they buy online and enter the promotional code APPENDIX. They’ll save $2 off each ticket.
Moore remarked, “We want people to have fun, see the show and support the medical community. If we can save you money by shedding body parts, so be it.”
After all, it’s only a flesh wound.
Thingamajig Theatre Company presents the regional premiere of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” rated PG-13. Performances run Wednesday-Sunday in rep with “The Full Monty,” through Aug. 11.
For tickets, show times and information visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW.