Wednesday, January 5, 2005

SPAMalot! The Musical

I was fortunate enough to secure tickets to Monty Python's SPAMalot in Chicago last week. It's a musical version of Monty Python's the Holy Grail, written by Eric Idle. This was a fantastic production - I've never laughed so hard during a musical! The show is world premiering in Chicago, getting ready to go to Broadway in February. According to the usher near us, the show is constantly changing based on audience reaction. Unfortunately, our "limited view" seats were even more limited by the castle walls built on the proscenium, still we had a lot of fun.


The cast featured Tim Curry as King Arthur, Hank Azaria as Lancelot and rude frenchman on top of the castle, and David Hyde-Pierce as an apt Sir Robin. The show had so many references to Monty Python sketches that I lost count, and even worked in the ever popular "Look at the Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian as a singalong! The female roles were beefed up quite a lot - the Lady of the Lake/Guinievier/Cow was fabulous. John Cleese even had a cameo as the voice of God.


One thing that was surprising was that from our limited view seats we had a full view of off-stage-left, and apparently these professional actors had never been told about two basic rules of theater: 1) be in character the moment you step backstage 2) if you can see the audience, they can see you. So, I got to see several ensemble members getting into costume (usually as monks, which were played by women) and joking around with someone backstage. The program for the show was also a bit disappointing, as almost all bios were a very dry read of every role each actor had ever played and where. The two notable exceptions were the bios of Monty Python, Eric Idle and Brad Bradley (a former theater bathroom cleaner ;-).