Galavant interview: An audience with the Queen of Valencia

Gen Allenbury
Who can forget this classic punchline? (Photo credit: ABC/Disney via Twitter)

Genevieve Allenbury is an accomplished actress, but she has never had an experience like this before. “Galavant” and the Queen of Valencia have become very near and dear to her heart. Something magical happened when she dawned the Queen of V’s crown and started blurting out cheeky punchlines. With time, Allenbury realized that she lost herself within this once-in-a-lifetime role. As we’ve seen from her delightfully engaging Twitter feed, the Queen is in many ways an extension of Allenbury’s own persona.

Her Majesty has been deeply moved by the fans’ #MoreGalavant efforts. She is thrilled to see that fans have been equally touched by this special show. Throughout the course of our conversation, Allenbury gushes about her “Galavant” family, recalls a few fun and somewhat painful on-screen shenanigans she’s experienced on set, and she explains how “Galavant” is a “historical” series that will surely stand the test of time.

Allenbury is living every actor’s dream and she’s been relishing every minute of it: “It’s been the most magical journey. To actually get up in the morning and go to work and virtually laugh all day. For somebody to give you a paycheck at the end of it is just crazy. It’s the most fabulous thing.” Anyone who is a true fan of the show, knows that this enchanting cast and hardworking behind-the-scenes crew has been a major part of “Galavant’s” success.

“I’ve done a lot of comedy and there is something extremely special about this show. The camaraderie, the bonding of the team of actors is unique. I’ve not experienced it. […] We’re vagabonds in a kind of way. We come together. We fall in love with each other for short periods of time and then we move on to a new group of vagabonds.” However, things turned out differently on this show. The whole “Galavant” gang has “remained connected,” Allenbury happily boasts. “It’s delightful and the petition is a testament to that.”

However, their sincerity and genuine bond as a whole creative team is not the only thing that sets “Galavant” apart from other shows. Allenbury explains:

“We also knew we were doing something historical. No matter what happens with ‘Galavant’ going forward, with every ounce of my being, I pray and hope that there’s more of it because this is not a finished story. I just think that looking back on these two seasons, if that is all its going to be, people will realize that ‘Galavant’ was the mainspring of that and that and that. There are shows you look back on them and you go, ‘Well that was the first show to do that or that.’ Musical comedy on television is unique.”

Sure, one can argue there have been other musical TV shows, but none have been like “Galavant.” The juxtaposition of medieval times with the meta breaking of the fourth wall and clever wink at the audience is, as the Queen says, “a wacky double-up.” When her British friends ask her to describe the show, she quotes a critic who said: “If Monty Python and Mel Brooks had a love child, ‘Galavant’ would be it.” Naturally, her British friends say that show sounds fantastic and want to see it. Unfortunately, “Galavant” does not air in the UK. And yes, it is mind-boggling for everyone involved, but we’ll save that lengthy discussion for another time. For now, we’re focusing on the bright side.

We all adore how the Queen of Valencia is very saucy and we aren’t the only ones. “I love, love, love it,” exclaims Allenbury. She became the show’s go-to for naughty one-liners rather early on, “It was the third or fourth episode of Season 1 and Dan [Fogelman, “Galavant’s” creator] was being supportive.” She takes this opportunity to praise “Galavant’s” brilliant writing team and credits them with the actors’ success.

“My own husband is a screenwriter,” she reveals. “I have a deep-rooted reverence for writers. No writers, no nothing. […] I love the writers for creating the work, creating the material.” She then returns to her story, “Dan came up to me and said ‘You are my go-to for the punchline.’ And I went ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ because punchlines are golden, they’re golden. I was so thrilled and had a blast with them. It was a joy. […] So yes, I did have some lucky saucy lines. Which is part of my nature.”

One of those lines actually turned out to be Allenbury’s favorite moment from Season 2. “For me the ‘spank bank’ was heaven on a stick. To get that out without putting any weight or innuendo, because that would’ve killed it…if an eyebrow had twitched, in terms of knowing what I was saying, then you don’t allow the audience that gift. I was cracking up all the time.” She adds, “And I loved our conga line.”

She then divulges some inside scoop on that epic conga-line sequence. Can you imagine dancing for hours on end with two broken toes? That’s exactly what our brave Queen had to do! That morning, Allenbury rushed to grab her cell phone when the alarm rang and she stubbed the two middle toes on her right foot against the edge of “one of the heaviest chairs in Christendom,” which was awkwardly positioned near her bed. She even heard a crack. Ouch! But, as they say, the show must go on!

Her toes were turning blue on set and she was in agony, so she asked the set nurse for some help. The nurse sprayed her toes with a numbing locale anesthetic and did a bit of “buddy binding,” which is “all you can do for broken toes.” Allenbury put on her fancy medieval shoes like a trooper, downed liquid ibuprofen, and kept the nurse on standby throughout the day. As we watch the scene, none of us would have ever been the wiser. The next day she saw all of her young cast mates tweeting away about how their muscles ached “head-to-toe,” meanwhile, their pain stricken matriarch “had no reaction.”

Four days later, she finally went to the hospital and an x-Ray revealed double diagonal fractures. Wow, that’s a bad break! Upon their check-out, the Bristol hotel with the terribly placed ironclad chairs said “Galavant” cast and crew kept moving chairs out of the way. The hotel eventually caught on to the problem and was apologetic. But alls well that ends well: “Both my toes have healed up nicely,” she happily reports with a giggle. What a pro!

This cultivated actress is not only made of steel, she also seems pretty easy to please because the only thing on her Season 3 wish-list is the treasured Jewel of Valencia. She proclaims, “I want my Jewel back! Where did my Jewel go?” Uh-oh! Sounds like King Richard might be in trouble with the Queen since he traded her jewel for Tad Cooper. Hey, it was worth it. Right?!

I inquire if she ever asked the writers for certain scenario or song and she is quick to sing their praises once more. “Again, I have not consciously thought, ‘Oh I want my character to do that.’ The writers now know who we are. You start off creating something with pen and paper […] and it has no embodiment. […] The writers now understand who the Queen of Valencia is and they write to her strengths.” The same goes for the directors.

She reveals, “The directors, each and every one of them are golden in their way. Each one with a fabulous allotment. Absolutely no egos. […] They really allowed us to play.” And that is when “stuff will start emerging.” Like the instantly GIF-able fist-bump between the King and Queen of Valencia. Allenbury happily recalls the whimsical improvisation, “For example the thing with Stanley [Townsend who plays the King of Valencia]…that’s something that kind of happened out of an instant moment.”

Again, she applauds the directors and writers for being so in-tune with the cast, “There was not a thing that they missed. If they spotted that, they sensed immediately the comedy gold of it. It became a catchphrase [comedy gold]. …I never actually felt that there was anything that could be bettered.” Based on the enthusiasm in her voice and her reverence for “Galavant” in general, it is becoming very clear that the Queen of Valencia is more than just another role to portray for Allensbury.

As she continues to thoughtfully answer my questions, I discover how the Queen of Valencia has a very special place in Allenbury’s heart: “I find it amazing because this character has developed a kind of person that lives within my own persona. I’ve never had that happen before.” She continues, “She started as something that I obviously had within me…but I had no idea the journey she would go on. […] She will do something and it isn’t me the actor having consciously thought it. It is something she is imparting on me. Which has of course made me fall in love with her.” Such is the magic and power of “Galavant.” It is also part of the reason why Team Galavant and the fans aren’t ready to let go without a fight.

She fondly recalls, “When the announcement came, each and every one of us was telephoned by the producers. They personally phoned each and every one of us. I’ve never had that happened. We knew in advance of the press. It’s an innate kindness.” Allenbury is clearly moved by the thoughtful gesture and attributes it to the show as a whole. “There is no nasty on the show,” she observes. She adds, “The baddies are adorable.” Usually we come to discover, as she sweetly points out, “There’s something lovable underneath.” If we’ve learned anything over the past two seasons, it’s that there are no really malicious villains on “Galavant,” only troubled souls who’ve strayed down the wrong path. That’s another reason why there are still so many more stories to tell!

Allenbury knows the Queen has many more adventures ahead of her, “We got the news and I got the sense, in fact, that I won’t let go of her. It’s almost as though I’d go into a kind of mourning. I cannot put her to bed. I cannot stop being the Queen of Valencia somewhere in my core. At the moment. It’s never happened to me before. I’m not sure exactly why except that she’s kind of grown into this thing that’s her own. […] It’s like the Queen of Valencia is expressing herself through me.” Hopefully, she won’t have to part with her inner Queen of V anytime soon. Fans still have great hopes that “Galavant” will live on in one medium or another.

Upon “Galavant’s” cancellation, legendary and Oscar winning Disney composer, Alan Menken, instantly sent out a tweet indicating a stage adaptation of “Galavant” might be a reality. When I ask Allenbury about it, her response is very optimistic and honest: “That was something that was in the ether and talked about. That’s very easy to say that of course we’ll do Galavant the Musical.” She admits, “I saw that tweet too. […] I do not believe Alan Menken would put it on Twitter idly. I would say that is something they’re seriously working at.” However, she clarifies, “It hasn’t been offered.” Fans are still holding out hope for #MoreGalavant and we are not alone.”Everyone that I talk to just doesn’t believe it’s over.”

As our enlightening conversation begins to wind down, we discuss why “Galavant” has become so important to so many people. She admits, “It is incredibly gratifying to have this passion. It’s very easy to love your own baby. This is clearly a scale of the world loving your baby.” Sure it’s fun to talk about the star power backing the #MoreGalavant campaign (Allenbury was particularly “astounded” by William Shatner’s support!), but it is the everyday viewer’s reaction that has made the most impact.

Allenbury tells the story of a man who wrote a letter to ABC. He said “Galavant” is the only show during which his 18 year old son sat alongside him and laughed whole heartedly. “It swelled his heart,” she warmly says. At the end of the day, that’s what makes the odd life of an actor worthwhile.

“As an actor that is a gift. To know that work you are doing has reached out and communicated to a family to create a bond that is precious. That’s why we do it. It’s got to be for the audience,” Allenbury says proudly and with whisper of hope in her soothing voice. “Truly, I believe the actors associated with the show…it’s the reward of knowing one is bringing some light.” As we continue chatting about how “Galavant” offers an escape from the dreariness of everyday reality, she says, “It’s a fearful world we are living in and if we can be distracted from that…then that’s got to be golden. […] And I think that’s why we’re so passionate. That’s the reason behind it. Genuinely to want to give back to the audience.”

From the very start of the #MoreGalavant campaign, the fans and Team Galavant have forged a bond over our mutual love of this magical show. In many ways, we’ve created one big “Galavant” family. As Karen David said before, we are giving it our “all or nothing” and in the end we can be proud knowing that we tried our best to save something special that we are all so passionate about. And so, Allenbury wants to leave you all with this moving sentiment:

“Whatever transpires…The joy of knowing that this many people have endorsed us so beautifully, makes the pain of losing this show a lot easier to bear because we know it’s got nothing to do with the show…I’m deeply grateful…it’s a real honor. So thank you.”

Sigh. So sweet! Okay, Galavanters! It’s time to get back to work. D’DEW it for your Queen and make her majesty proud. Write, vote, tweet, and keep spreading the #MoreGalavant love:

Check Karen David’s Facebook page for daily updates (including details on all latest online voting polls) HERE.

Find details on the #MoreGalavant campaign (info for Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc.) HERE.

Sign and share the petition HERE.

Circulate the cast’s #MoreGalavant video online and get #MoreGalavant trending on Twitter!

Vote for “Galavant” in the Voice of TV Awards (polls open until June 12) HERE.

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