Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Quest For Spamalot

When I heard that Monty Python and the Holy Grail was being made into a Broadway musical, I thought that was a great idea. Sort of. One must venture cautiously when tampering with things that aqcuire a cult-like following. Even my dad, overly critical fellow that he is when it comes to filtering his entertainment choices, fondly recalls his own hysterical laughter when he first saw King Arthur galloping, sans noble steed, over hill and dale accompanied by a man pounding together coconuts. I mean what could there not be to love?

Last night, my main squeeze treated me to Spamalot. As lines from the movie are quotidian for us we weren't sure what to expect.

The audience was composed primarily of two groups: The uninitiated, who were simply present as die-hard theater goers with season passes to everything, and the die-hard devotees of the film with their prop coconuts and killer bunny hand puppets on hand. Although a fan, I am hardly die-hard anything, so by default it was interesting to hear distinct portions of the audience react to different things.

For those in the know, the biggest obstacle this show has is hearing the original dialogue delievered by a voice you aren't used to. Everyone who loves the film knows that it's not just the ridiculous nature of the dialogue, but the idiosyncratic delivery that catches your ear. It's like a foreigner mispronouncing a word. Those who are fluent can't help but want to correct. Homage is good, I am sure, but this seems a different beast.

So anytime a signature phrase or scene was reenacted onstage, it was simply not funny. The Knights who say Ni were not as amusingly threatening. Brother Maynard reciting the instructions for sacred artillery? "...then lobbeth thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it. Amen." High-larious. But here, it had all the character of a bored sunday school teacher.

The best bits often were when it deviated and embraced, even parodied, it's Broadway style theatrics. Additions such as a Lady of the Lake diva with her "Laker Girls" made for a show that was completely unrecognizable as a Python adaptation. I'm used to the film so much that it was jarring for me, but probably perfectly acceptable as campy show. The quest for the grail, in a show stopping number, becomes the quest to make it big on Broadway "You can't be successful on Broadway without any Jews." Which, now that I think about it, is probably a Pythonesque joke where the play is lampooning itself, as the movie skewered its attributes of being a feature film.

It was all a different flavor of silly and maybe just tad too hokey for my taste. Perhaps it just wasn't dirty enough. Not in the perverted way, but as in, "Where is all the mud, filth and spurting appendages?" It was all clean bright and shiny castles and expensive storybook forest trees with all the shit cleaned off. Hm, okay, maybe a little in the perveted way. There were no spankings to be found either.

All of this is not to say that I didn't have a good time. It wasn't ever boring, just more "The Producers" than "Python". But then, not being a veteran of what to actually expect from a nationally touring, professional musical it was a treat just to go. I got a good chuckle out of it. Truthfully, the whole Broadway scene is really a little bit weird to me. (Uh-huh, you say, but you dig strange British men who dress in drag...) Maybe I'm just not the all-singing, all-dancing gay on the avenue...

Oh, who am I kidding. I'm just jealous of people who can get on a stage without throwing up. The tiny black woman in my brain just smacked me upside the lobe and gave me some major head swivel.

9 comments:

Hubbard said...

Last night, my main squeeze treated me to Spamalot.

Congrats on the main squeeze! How'd you meet?

Dean said...

Damn, someone beat me to it. I was thinking there was only ONE thing in this post that needed explanation, and that was the phrase, "my main squeeze".

Spill it, buddy. ;-)

David In Denver said...

Spill it, because I'm SOOOO excited for you I could just spit!

Kevin said...

Main squeeze .. oh THAT old news? ;)

So, how long is it playing? I'm guessing it's in Tampa? Or where?

David said...

I'm a die-hard theatre-goer AND a huge Monty Python fan, and I did not make a point of seeing this show. I've heard good things, but I just know I would be disappointed.

I too am eager for some "main squeeze" de-briefing. I've talked about mine, so fair is fair.

Larry said...

My former boss Bill went to see Spamalot with his family last year in New York (at least I think it was New York). He loved it and recommended it to everyone he saw. Personally I'm not into theater. I have yet to see a single explosion or spaceship laden special-effects shot on Broadway and so I'm not going :)

Your main squeeze? Well I'm more interested in all your subordinate squeezes. What fun stuff do you do with them?

Marty Gilbert said...

Film is Art
Theater is life

Television is funiture

Theater, and only nationl touring, is unique its where 30 people. unload 10 trucks of stuff and assemble it on a 40' X 90' Stage for your enjoyment.

The show really goes on backstage.
Orginised chos is the best description. Perfically timed.
The most fun is delivering mics to the male chorus. entering the dressing room and there all chasing each other around in there underware. You proclain Audio, Ok boys bend over the table and ill make this a painless as possable or just send the new guy down to do it. Then get him to listen to the mics he just delivered. As they all gossup about the new guys Ass. That seperates the men from the boys on Stage.

donnachada said...

What wonderful illustrations you have. Thanks for the kind words.

Host No. 1 said...

C'mon guy! When are we gonna see another post - even if it is just a little nugget about the monkeys something! Anything! Come on!!! :)