Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Monty Python's Spamalot": ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

The taunting Frenchmen at the castle. The body in the plague cart singing "I'm Not Dead Yet!" The Black Knight losing all his body parts: "It's just a flesh wound." The naked feet of God. "What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot." And that's just Act One.

Monty Python fanatics (mostly men) will love "Spamalot," which opened Wednesday at the Golden Gate Theater with its traveling company, helped along by shovels full of bloody heads and endless double entendres, plus the requisite amount of fart jokes and knights soiling their trousers. Although this is a brand of humor towards which many women do not normally gravitate, the wives (mostly women) of the Pythoniacs will also love Spamalot, with its ensemble singing and dancing, grand costuming and staging, plus pacing that barely allows you time to scratch your head and say: Did I really just hear what I think I heard?"

This is most evident in Act Two, when King Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail morphs into a desire to turn the whole enterprise into a Broadway musical. From this point onward, Spamalot becomes a delicious spoof on Broadway, complete with songs like "You Won't Succeed on Broadway," in which Arthur is commanded to find some Jews, without whom Broadway success is not possible.

You have to be Monty Python to pull this off and Eric Idle's lyrics and John Du Prez and Idle's music are stupidly wonderful and as clever as ever. True Pythoniacs squeal with delight the moment they see the Black Knight, the infamous Killer Rabbit and the Knights Who Say Ni and when each act ends with the spoof song to end all spoof songs ("The Song that Goes Like This") even the jaded songwriter jumps to his feet to cheer.

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards Monty Python's "Spamalot" Four Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. Special kudos to the cast standouts, including John O'Hurley as long-suffering King Arthur, Matt Allen as Patsy (funny, he doesn't LOOK Jewish), the fabulously prancing Christopher Sutton as Prince Herbert and Merle Dandridge as an unexpectedly and delightfully soulful Lady of the Lake.

The BANGLE of PRAISE is for the whole production, including Tim Hatley's innovative and movable sets, where forests change into castles and rocks become singing peasants; Hugh Vanstone's lighting and Elaine J. McCarthy's projections, which keep the zany Python flavor. The orchestra, with real music played by real musicians on real and relatively real instruments always adds an extra dimension to the flavor of a show. With all this, Monty Python's Spamalot, though not inexpensive, is not outlandishly priced. There are limited-view $25 seats available by lottery on the day of the show and the top ticket in the house is $99. That barely gets you a pastrami sandwich on the real Broadway.

Monty Python's Spamalot
Golden Gate Theater
1 Taylor Street, San Francisco (corner Market Street)
Through July 5

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

spamalot runs in cologne too! very cool musical! greets