Spamalot, oh Spamalot, you critically acclaimed musical you... Last night, Paul and I celebrated three years together with our final Broadway show (for... at least a while). Ever since this show debuted starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, and Hank Azaria, and launching Sara Ramirez to her current celebrity, he's been itching to see it. So we seized this last opportunity (well, now it's spawns are in London, Vegas, and touring nationally, but you get what I mean), and were frankly a bit disappointed.
The first act was fantastic. The musical numbers were relevant and a ton of fun to watch, while still paying homage to the film which it is based off of. The introduction to the Knights of the Roundtable was delightful, as was the encounter with the Knights Who Say Ni. The best line of the play came improvised from the leader of the Knights Who Say Ni. According to the linked article, they reintroduce themselves as the "Knights Who Say (long improvised name, which this time included) I am the Father of Anna Nicole Smith's Baby". HILARIOUS. After we finally stopped laughing, the Knight turned to us and asked "Too soon?". Oh my!
The Act One finale was my favorite part of the show, when the Knights of the Roundtable encounter the French knights guarding their castle. Lines like "I fart in your general direction" followed by a musical number using creatively placed horns to... fart in their general direction... Well, that's the key to my heart. Additionally, the main French guard did this incredible, must-see thing with his head between the blocks of the castle which I can only compare to Pong. And yes, that's a great thing.
Unfortunately, the second act seemed to lose it. It just dropped the
original Grail-quest storyline, and decided to spoof Broadway instead. Sure, the first act innuendoed a poke at "Phantom of the Opera", but when Act Two's first major musical number "You'll Never Succeed on Broadway" (let me end this for you: "Without a Jew"), complete with a bottle, er, grail dance straight from "Fiddler on the Roof", I couldn't help but groan. Isn't this Forbidden Broadway's schtick, with better Production Design? (Don't get me wrong, I love "Forbidden Broadway", but I can get tickets for $30.00 from the TKTS booth). And when the Lady of the Lake character came out mid-act to sing her "Diva's Lament"... I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
Additionally, I am still trying to figure out if it was cast's lackluster performances. Just seeing two casts of mostly twenty-somethings own their respective roles, exhibiting absolute pride and enthusiasm with every word and nuance, I was comparatively disappointed. Yes, Spamalot contains stodgy, British humor - but the jokes from the film held up! I tried to envision the original cast - perhaps a flamenco bit featuring Hank Azaria would've been better - but the bizarre plot turn in Act Two just didn't do it for me. And while this is worth seeing simply for its reknown, it is probably just as good on the national tour as it is on Broadway.