“Tis just a flesh wound.”
Repeat this to about 90% of the male adult population, and you’ll at the very least elicit a chuckle. The comedy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of the most cherished film comedy classics. It takes a healthy amount of absurdity, clever wit, and sprinkles in a few bits of blasphemy to create one of the funniest movies ever imprinted onto celluloid. So, why would you bother turning a classic like this into a Broadway style musical?
Well, because it is damn funny. Monty Python’s Spamalot employs many of your favorite scenes, characters, and lines from the Holy Grail, and adds in a lot of Broadway in-jokes. The mix of these elements makes Spamalot an outrageous Broadway show that routinely breaks the fourth wall, and continues to one up itself in its terms of absurdity and hilarity.
The beauty of Spamalot is that it has a sense of familiarity because so much is taken from its original source material, but adds in enough new comedy to not make the entire show feel stale. Anyone who has seen the original film may not believe that it would lend itself so easily to musical theatre, and they may be right. Many of the songs within the program don’t focus on the plot itself, but instead focus on the over the top spectacle of Broadway style musicals.
It isn’t a complete remake of Holy Grail, instead a few minor characters are omitted, and the Lady of the Lake is given a much larger role. (You can’t have a Broadway show without a diva, now can you?) Much of the changes are made to suit its jump into live theater, and to continue to lampoon its own existence.
The show is carried by a number of strong comedic performances, and highlighted by an exceptionally good Lady of the Lake played by Caroline Bowman. Hitting all the high notes, while showing a sense of sold comedic timing, Bowman easily is the highlight of the performance. Bowman easily elicited the largest response when the cast was presented at the end of the show, and it was a rightly deserved honor.
This is a great show for any newcomers into musical theatre. It doesn’t take itself to seriously, it is probably one of the funniest stage plays to ever grace the stage at the Fabulous Fox, and there is a lot of grand spectacle to boot. Come for the Monty Python references, stay for the outrageous storyline, the incredible amount of costume changes, and the amazingly talented performers.