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Spamalot

After the first act, I wished that this musical - mostly based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail - could give up the heavy-handed stringing of the plot along, and just give in to what it was good at: being a thematically-unified variety show. And behold! That's exactly what the second act provided, and it was a much better experience for it.

It's a hit-and-miss confection overall, frothy and fun, oblingingly offering up most of the most famous bits of the movie (although the appearance of Tim the Enchanter seemed unnecessary, given that he asked no questions). There is shrubbery and limbs chopped off and people who are mostly dead (but have to sing one of the show's weakest songs). There are also new elements, most notably the addition of the Lady of the Lake, since otherwise there was no major female part. She was wonderfully over-acted, and given fabulously self-parodying numbers to sing - but the part itself was minimal, and the role has less personality than the others. I was particularly won by the actors playing Robin and Patsy. Lancelot should have been an overdone role, but was merely done.

There was no Brian, but there was "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", which was better integrated than I'd feared. There was an excellent weather forecast, and a cheery Finnish fish-slapping song, and disco. There were cheerleaders and lots of knights getting limbs chopped off. Overall, the musical parodied - or at least referenced - at least a dozen other musicals. Yet the whole thing could have been even better if the writers had realized from the start what their strengths were - the token plot was better staying token.

Thanks to haggisthesecond and naxos for organizing.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
steer
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
the appearance of Tim the Enchanter seemed unnecessary, given that he asked no questions

I don't remember him asking questions in the film. Are you thinking of the bridge-keeper? Or have I just forgotten the questions?
owlfish
Mar. 19th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
You're right - I was getting confused with the bridge-keeper (who was not in the musical either), but even so, Tim still seemed unnecessary, except, of course, for the generic glee of the character's presence. But the plot, however token, really didn't require him.

Edited at 2008-03-19 11:13 pm (UTC)
owlfish
Mar. 20th, 2008 09:51 am (UTC)
Speaking of missing characters, it was also a Zoot-free musical. They go to all that work to put in a leading lady role, and get rid of one of the existing female roles.
steer
Mar. 20th, 2008 09:56 am (UTC)
Hmm... could it be because the main scene she's in is about spanking and oral sex. What is the rating for the show?
owlfish
Mar. 20th, 2008 10:35 am (UTC)
Oh, minor drawbacks! Just because it's a family-friendly musical....

Yeah, you have a point.
billyabbott
Mar. 19th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
The second half was good, but the appearance of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life annoyed me so much that I didn't enjoy it as much as the first. Looking back on it now without the rather random appearance of that song still ringing in my ears it was rather good (the line "it's a very small percentile that likes a dancing gentile" is still one of my fave lines in a song ever) and I think I might even have to go and see it again.
owlfish
Mar. 19th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
I've known for at least a year or so that "Always Look..." was in this musical, and thus had had enough advanced warning to purge my chagrin. I was still expecting to dislike it, but was relieved to find it used appropriately, despite my fears.
printperson
Mar. 19th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
That's what I thought too, when I saw it with Marzapane on Broadway several years ago. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it was too close to the hit moments of the movie. Do they go the the West End in the British production? In the one we saw, they went to Broadway, and of course it was charming to be sitting in a NY theater watching it.
owlfish
Mar. 19th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, they do go to the West End.
(Deleted comment)
owlfish
Mar. 19th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
I would have liked it more had Lancelot not seemed so stunned for the first half. Coy would have made sense. Frozenly stunned didn't do much.
marzapane
Mar. 21st, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
That was my favorite part too; I loved the samba costumes. Lancelot was wonderfully done in the version we saw.
stonecircle
Mar. 21st, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
I must admit to having enjoyed the whole thing from start to finish when my sister bought me tickets for my 30th. I was worried about an adaptation but was having so much fun I didn't worry about it when we got there. Not like watching LOTR at the cinema (which I enjoyed and own on special editions DVD) where I picked apart the differences from the books. I still have fun listening to the soundtrack, Finland, Finland, Finland ...

R.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )