Why Spamalot is Nifty-Keen

There's a very small percentile
Who enjoys a dancing gentile
I'm sad to be the one with this bad news.
Never mind your swordplay
You just won't succeed on Broadway
You just don't succeed on Broadway if you don't have any Jews.

So we saw Spamalot tonight......

Well, we were somewhat disappointed to arrive at the Shubert Theatre to see that Tim Curry was sitting this one out, substituted with John Bolton.

However, our disappointment at not seeing Tim was soon mitigated by the show. From the opening number where the cast mistakenly think the show is taking place in Finland rather than England to the show-stopping close with the various weddings (because that's how Broadway shows end), and the encore reprise of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (from The Life of Brian and, while it was well-used here, the song's much funnier when sung by a bunch of guys being crucified), the show is absolutely brilliantly wonderfully magnificent.

And it's good, too. *grin*

Bolton played Arthur in much the same way that Graham Chapman did in the movie: the straight man. Christopher Sieber played Galahad in much the same way Brendan Frasier played the lead in Airheads. Sara Ramirez was stellar doing her best Liza Minelli impersonation, attacking the role of the Lady of the Lake with spectacular gusto (oh, and her line about not winning a Tony Award in "Diva's Lament (Whatever Happened to My Part?)" has been adjusted to accommodate Ramirez's well-deserved Tony).

David Hyde-Pierce was as amazing as expected as the cowardly Sir Robin. While he doesn't quite have Eric Idle's cravenness, he more than makes up for it on the show-stopping number "You Won't Succeed on Broadway."

As for Alan Tudyk -- Hank who? Tudyk practically stole the show, and that's not an easy theft to accomplish. As with the movie, the principals played multiple roles, and Tudyk did not just play Lancelot, but also the leader of the Knights Who Say "Ni!" and the French taunter and Tim the Enchanter, and he played all of them to the letter.

Every recent famous Broadway play was lampooned from Phantom of the Opera (a crashing chandelier after "The Song that Goes Like This"), Cats (Ramirez rising to the air during "Find Your Grail"), West Side Story (a riff on "America" during a bit in Act II), Boy from Oz ("His Name is Lancelot"), Fiddler on the Roof ("You Won't Succeed on Broadway"), and Les Misérables (a Cossette analogue during the taunting by the French, and Tudyk swinging the French flag à la Jean Valjean as the scrim closes).

Oh, and pay attention to the scrim toward the end of intermission, as it will set you up for Act II via Gilliamish animation (which includes, among other things, two swallows flying while carrying a coconut).

Some elements from the movie were missed. There was no Castle Anthrax, no old man from Scene 24, no three questions to cross the bridge, no witch trial. The ending of the Knights Who Say "Ni!" scene was changed in such a way that the "it" joke didn't really work anymore. And Lancelot's wedding massacre didn't work too well without the crowd scene, but it segued nicely into the Village People-esque "His Name is Lancelot," so that's okay. Besides, these are minor and inconsequential complaints over the best time I've had at a theatre since I saw Love! Valour! Compassion! and that was over ten years ago.

Do what you can short of homicide to see this play.

[First posted in my LiveJournal on 16 June 2005.]


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