A Merry Dish of "Spamalot"
I was laughing from the moment I settled into "Monty Python's Spamalot" at National Theatre last night. Before the curtain is even lifted, attentive audience members will be amused with the Playbill and even the cell phone announcement. I will admit that I have never been the biggest fan of Monty Python, but I cannot wait to go see this show again.
Though it clocks in at nearly two-and-a-half hours, the show flies by, and I found myself bemoaning that they could not fit in more. For those who do love "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the show has an all-star lineup of scenes from the film, including ones with the French Taunter, tome-toting monks and the Black Knight. Plus, many of the characters bear strong resemblance to their on-screen counterparts. Michael Siberry, in particular, is a perfect King Arthur with priceless facial expressions. There's great humor in translating the low-budget movie into this high-budget Broadway bonanza and creating a set and costumes contrived to look shabby.
Though there are a few less thrilling moments -- the visit to Camelot seemed a bit forced for the production -- the show is full of laughs. Audience members would clap or throw up their arms at the first hint of a familiar voice or character from the film. What makes it so funny is that the actors take a moment and drag it through the realm of hilarity: from funny into the maybe-not-so-funny zone and up into the zone of true comic genius. When Dennis Galahad expresses incredulity that King Arthur would inherit his kingdom from the Lady of the Lake, superseding any democratic process, he states, "Soggy old blondes with their backsides in ponds can't replace the electorate."
The last time I remember laughing so wholeheartedly at the theater was at Mel Brooks's "The Producers" and it seems that this show pays tribute to Brooks with odes to "The Producers" as well as Brooks's "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." Part of the reason the musical is such an uproarious success is that it combines the cheeky British humor that we remember from the films and "Monty Python's Flying Circus" with more thoughtful and funny riffs that play on current issues. In addition to its aforementioned nods, the show gently spoofs other musicals including "The Wizard of Oz," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Fiddler on the Roof."
So, if you want a night of "yays" with the Knights who say "Ni," go to the Telecharge Web site and keep an eye out at TicketPlace in the unlikely event that the show offers any discounted tickets. If you're already going already, brace yourself for a hearty dish of "Spamalot."
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