Although it’s a comedy, “Spamalot” made Jake Mills cry. The actor saw the comedic musical based on slapstick movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” when it first opened in London, and he laughed for the duration of the production — until the confetti cannons went off.
“I’ve seen the saddest of plays and never cried,” Mills says, shaking his head in shame. Just like the bursting cannons, he couldn’t hold it inside. It’s something he has only ever told his wife, Samantha Mills.
Mills doesn’t think Florida Studio Theatre will have confetti cannons for its production opening Nov. 13. Mills plays Sir Bedevere The Strangely Flatulent, the not-so-smart brains of the bunch of misfit Knights of the Round Table. And as the name implies, his brain isn’t the only thing full of gas. In fact, in his entrance, he walks out on stage, lifts a cheek to suggest he’s tooting and then airs out his tunic.
“It’s a talent I don’t like to brag about,” he says — joking about how he doesn’t need to improvise and could let one go on command.
His wife is not only a saint for having to endure what smells to be typecasting, but she’s also a dancer. They met at the Williamsburg, Va., Busch Gardens in a Halloween production in which Jake Mills played a vampire lead singer, and Samantha played one of his backup dancers. She joined the “Spamalot” cast late in the production, and Mills loves getting to perform with her again. It’s the added bonus of getting to see Sam-a-lot.
The for-now Sarasotans moved to the area the day after Christmas for Jake Mills to pursue an acting apprenticeship with Florida Studio Theatre. He understudied in four of last season’s productions, and joined FST improv. Although, Mills says he’s not funny and just happens to have a knack for comedic roles. He’s more reserved, but funnier than he lets on. Mills comes into his own on stage because he gets to pretend to be someone who isn’t shy in real life.
Because of his apprenticeship, FST staff invited him to teach at its summer camp. He worked with the special needs VIP Kids. His wife also taught at the summer camp, and they share a favorite memory. A 6-year-old boy in a wheelchair didn’t understand the concept of being quiet during performances, so the Millses would take him beyond backstage during performances and attempt to keep him occupied. Instead of coloring per usual, Mills and his wife gave him an adventure one day: They told him they would give him three quarters to buy a soda, if the camper could raise the fourth.
“He was backstage yelling ‘Does anyone have a quarter?’ and everyone could hear it on stage,” Jake Mills recalls.
It’s remained a running joke.
His apprenticeship ended mid-August, and now Mills is what he refers to as “a paid, cool actor guy.” He’s willing to go wherever the job takes him, and wouldn’t mind staying in Sarasota. Ideally, he will be back in New York City. Before Sarasota, The Millses lived there and Jake Mills sold tickets to Broadway productions as a side job while auditioning.
Upon moving here, the couple temporarily bunked at the home of Mills’ Sarasota-based grandparents, William aka “Poppers” and Barbara aka “Moppers” Mills.
Moppers always wants her grandson to break out into song, and his wife in dance, he explains. Always.
“Whenever she sees me,” Mills explains with a laugh. “I always tell her to come see a show.”
And he thinks everyone in Sarasota should join Moppers in seeing “Spamalot.”
“Because it made me cry, and it’s going to make you cry,” he says.
Either from the smell, or with laughter.
IF YOU GO
When: Opens 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 and runs through Jan. 11
Where: Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave.
Cost: Tickets are $19 to $42
Info: Call 366-9000 or visit floridastudiotheatre.org
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