a kate west review
book by Eric Idle; music & lyrics by John DuPrez & Eric Idle
directed by Mike Nichols
at the Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
contact (212) 239-6200 or (800) 545-2559 OR Telecharge.com
running through October 2007
It won the Tony for Best Musical in 2005 and it's still running. A must-see for Monty Python fanatics (of the well-loved BBC series), "Spamalot" is also quite the hoot for the tourist crowds. Created by Eric Idle of Python fame, it adds new music to the stage adaptation of the Python hit movie "The Holy Grail".
Jonathan Hadary ("Sex and the City") takes over the Tim Curry (a more inspired choice) role as King Arthur on a quest to find the holy grail and to get to know the Britons. Surrounded by his loyal knights, he embarks on a very silly journey in parodying his own legend. Sir Robin (Martin Moran), Sir Lancelot (Rick Holmes) and Sir Galahad (Lewis Cleale) help him in this endeavor. Also key is Marin Mazzie as the Lady of the Lake in her own fine take on the former Sara Ramirez role.
We know we're not in Kansas anymore when an Historian (Tom Deckman) chides the chorus for singing about Finland instead England ("Fisch Schlapping Song"). The comedic spoofs escalate from there. Generally following the "Holy Grail" storyline, King Arthur and his Knights roam the countryside, encountering Laker Girls, Camelot, the taunting evil French ("Run Away"), a Black Knight, the notorious Knights of Ni, a Killer Rabbit and even God (voiced by John Cleese). Each scene is sillier than the next. Ultimately, King Arthur decides his true goal, the real holy grail, is to find his way to Broadway.
The numbers are well directed by Mike Nichols but include a few "un-PC" scenes, such as "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" without Jews, which showcases menorahs and dreidels, as well as "His Name is Lancelot" where Lancelot discovers he is fashionably gay. Other than that, the songs are fun and entertaining and you are free to laugh as loud as you want. By the way, there is some gentle audience participation for whoever is lucky enough to sit in the middle right orchestra and a joyous chorus of "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" for everyone at the curtain call, followed by confetti.
As previously stated, Jonathan Hadary is all right as King Arthur, but not as much fun as Tim Curry. The rest of the cast is strong, including the new Lady of the Lake (Marin Mazzie) who is amusingly frustrated at the smallness of her role ("The Diva's Lament"). "The Song That Goes Like This" pokes fun at Broadway manipulation and showcases her quite well. Most of the ensemble plays multiple roles, sharing spotlights and zaniness and are very adept at jumping in and out of characters and well-paced scene changes. Tim Hatley designed fun, authentic costumes and sets so that you might think you're watching an old Python skit. No doubt Eric Idle made sure everyone stayed true to Python esthetics.
It's a fun show and a tourist delight. If you're a true Python fan, you'll love quoting the original film , chuckling at inside jokes and watching new fans revel in good old-fashioned slapstick puns.
Monty Python's Spamalot (2005 Original Broadway Cast)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Extraordinarily Deluxe Three-Disc Edition)
More Sublime Python:
The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset
Fawlty Towers - The Complete Series