Sunday, March 18, 2007
Spamalot: A Review, or, "It's Only a Flesh Wound"
I went to see Spamalot this weekend at the Wynn in Las Vegas. It was still considered a preview showing, but you would have never known considering how well put together everything was. From the amazing set pieces to the actor's themselves, everything was top notch. I would have thought I was on Broadway and not in Vegas if the show wasn't retooled a bit to give it some more Vegas style.
Spamalot is the stage adaptation of the classic 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It tells the tale of King Arthur of the Britons, on his quest across England circa 900A.D. to find knights to join him at the round table, and search for the Holy Grail. Along the way, he recruits Lancelot the Brave, Sir Robin the not-so-brave, Sir Dennis the filthy, and Sir Bedevere the flatulent. He is also joined by the Lady of the Lake, and his loyal assistant Patsy. A fantastic assortment of characters is met along the way, including Price Herbert, the Knights who say Ni, The Black Knight, the French Guards, and a very angry bunny.
Happily, the acting was not too hammy (or spammy...). King Arthur is played by John O'Hurley (J Peterman from Seinfeld). He gives the King the perfect amount of pride, stupidity, and courage. I would even say he played the part better than Graham Chapman in the original movie! I would still have loved to see Tim Curry in this role (one of my favorite actors of all time). The Lady of the Lake was played by the voluptuous Nikki Crawford. She has an incredible voice, and did a wonderful job of going from diva to comidienne to love interest. The King's loyal servant Patsy was probably my favorite character though, played by Justin Brill. Besides having the funniest line in the show, he is on stage just as much as the King and his role mainly consists of reacting to others, but he easily steals the spot light away from others with some of his reactions and body language.
The set pieces were huge and ever changing. The set truly looked like something right out of the Monty Python universe, with enormous cutouts of clouds, castles, a faithful remake of the Excalibur castle for Camelot, and God's feet. I thought I was watching the opening to the show on TV at some points. The costumes were just as good and clever. The Knights who say Ni looked amazing, and they were even able to pull off the ENTIRE Black Knight scene on stage! Yes, it is possible to cleave off someone's limbs in a stage show.
The music was fantastic. Some of the musical highlights include "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," "Fisch Schlapping Dance," "Not Dead Yet," "Song That Goes Like This, The" and "You Won't Succeed On Broadway (without a Jew)." The show even ended with a sing-a-long for "Always Look..." with the words bouncing along the clouds overhead.
The show lasted a good 90 minutes without intermission, and I would have loved to sit and watch more. This show was clearly changed a bit for the Vegas crowd with lines like "this is Vegas, baby" and the aforementioned Excalibur/Camelot set. Even the lobby and entrance to the theater was an event with full suits of armor, pictures from the movie and TV show, and signs offering to sell all of the decorations (see below). I was also VERY impressed how this 30 year old story was redone to be modern, with current jokes added about Britney Spears, Laker girls, and other 21st century references.
I have no real complaints about this show. The only minor complaint is that during some larger songs, with many people singing, the lyrics were a bit harder to understand. This is true of many musicals, and this was still only a preview showing, but I hope they can clean up the group numbers slightly where the sound of the lyrics is concerned. Other than that, 2 minor technical issues (set piece was stuck on stage for 2 seconds too long, and one of 6 trees did not light up like the others) were the only negatives of the whole night.
I cannot recommend this show more. If you like musical comedy, don't mind a British accent, and don't mind some cheesy, tongue-in-cheek moments, this show will have you laughing the entire time. Go buy tickets today.
5 Stars (out of 5)