It is generally a rule that any young nerd must adore Monty Python; I was no exception. I haven’t watched the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail for over ten years, even though it’s had several special edition DVD releases. I was just burned out on it, so I avoided Spamalot on Broadway when it first came out. And boy do I regret it, because this is one hilarious show.
Clay Aiken is the only “big name” singing this time around, in what will be its final run. David Hyde-Pierce and Tim Curry were in it, but Clay does a fine job as the cowardly Sir Robin. He doesn’t play the gay one? What a lost opportunity. King Arthur is played by Michael Siberry, and he has a sort of Jack Sparrow slur to his voice but none of the effeminacy, and manages to make the role his own and not a pale shadow of the late great Graham Chapman. That’s a worthy achievement, and nearly as difficult as Roger Bart stepping into Gene Wilder’s shoes for Young Frankenstein.
The plot is much the same as the movie with a few twists thrown in, some new songs that play on favorite scenes, and plenty of Broadway in-joke humor. Arthur and his “horse” Percy are seeking knights, and eventually hunt up Galahad, Bedevere, Robin and the homo-cidal Lancelot (more on that later), and God (voiced by John Cleese) tasks them with finding the Holy Grail. The new songs are more Broadway than Python, but have the same biting humor- for example, Clay Aiken sings “You can’t have a Broadway show without any Jews,” and they get in on the Mel Brooks act with a Star of David themed number; the movie’s one-off joke about Lancelot being gay (when he “rescues” a fellow knight from the perils of Castle Anthrax and its sexually rapacious nuns) becomes a big dance number with riffs on the Copacabana and gay ’70s disco culture.
There’s still plenty of original Python songs and humor- Sir Robin’s song, and the fantastic “Knights of the Round Table” song is extended. The Lady of the Lake is made into a major character to give the all-male story some female interest and songs, and she even has a “What Happened to My Part?” song gag in the middle, done Vegas style. They keep things topical with the Taunting French Knights, who not only farted in their general direction, but also threatened to throw shoes at them.
For old Python fans like me & Milky, it was a blast- and even Firecracker, who’d only seen Holy Grail once and wasn’t a huge fan, still loved the show and laughed quite a bit. I found a few of the Broadway song gags a little on the long side, like “The Song That Goes Like This,” but there was never a dull moment. The set design is incredible, and even the nosebleed seats- which we got for a mere $20 from Broadway Offers- gave a great view. Seeing the Killer Rabbit, the Knight who keeps fighting as he’s delimbed, and the cow catapult onstage was a blast. The humor swings from absurd to risque in classic Monty Python fashion, and there’s plenty of swag- from coconut halves for your “horse,” to Killer Bunny slippers- to fill up on. They also have a Karaoke CD (link at end of post)
The show ends on January 11th, so see it while you can. Do the Broadway economy a favor and see it on the cheap. Go to www.broadwayoffers.com and use coupon code SPBAL20 to see it for $20, or $28.50 with ticket fees. Vhat a bargain! We ate at Five Guys Burgers & Fries (a mere 10 block walk) to avoid Broadway crowds, and as always it was a fresh, inexpensive, quick and tasty meal.