There comes a time when not all film-to-stage reproductions work out quite so well. With “Spamalot”, the 2005 musical adapted by Eric Idle and John Du Prez from the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” coming to the Johnny Mercer Theater, this idea is not far behind.
The laughs and more fun aspects of “Monty Python” are not hard to recreate. In this case, the cardboard cut-out set pieces and all-too-typical cliché Medieval costuming, supposed to work in favor of the silliness of the show, barely add anything at all. The show is a long way from Terry Gilliam’s inventive animations that both the film and “Monty Python” are known for.
The show tries hard to reach in and grab hold of our inner 12 year old with everything from dancing “lake-er” girls in barely-there beaded outfits, to the famed French guard tower knight proudly stating “I fart in your general direction.”
All of it just seems overdone, and, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 37 years, a cheap rip-off of the film.
Don’t get me wrong; the cast is filled with plenty of talent. Arthur Rowan and Abigail Raye, who play King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake, respectively, both give their all in an otherwise flat script. They’re powerhouse vocal talent and fun take on the medieval stereotypes keep your attention when they’re on stage, but it’s hard to understand how the original Broadway cast, filled with stars like Tim Curry and Hank Azaria, was so successful.
Touring musicals often have a much smaller budget than theater shows, and cut corners in order to fit the show into certain venues. The costuming ranged from cheap, JoAnn’s fabric clothing to expensive and flashy Vegas showgirl get-ups.
It leaves you wondering if a lack of money or bad design is to blame.
The show is meant to be cheesy. Without it “Spamalot” would lack what “Monty Python” was so well known for in the first place. There are plenty of honestly funny moments, but the overall feel is overdone.
For true theatergoers and musical aficionados, this is probably one to skip. The music is fun, but forgettable. The characters are exact copies of ones from the film. The set looks like a cardboard dollhouse.
At the end of the day, the character of Not Dead Fred proclaiming “I’m not dead yet,” is only wishful thinking for an already graved musical.