You can't help but laugh at Spamalot. Even those of you whose Monty Python knowledge is a bit rusty will be moved by this touring musical comedy, which is, according to the playbill, "lovingly ripped off" from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Mimes doing the Macarena, bad French accents, fart jokes aplenty - honestly, what's not to laugh about?
Overture Hall was packed for opening night on Tuesday. Through the lobby wandered what had to be the most diverse crowd Overture has seen for some time. From white-haired ladies in their Sunday finest to guys wearing their finest Monty Python pajama pants, the crowd was lively and thoroughly excited to be there. The queue of folks casting slightly envious glances at anyone clutching tickets (the student rush-ticket line) was so long it nearly bled into the lines of people waiting to order a pre-show cocktail.
Though it sets out to poke fun at musical comedies, Spamalot actually seems quite tickled by the genre. The song and dance are buoyant and bright. The tunes make not-too-subtle references to Broadway super-hits like Phantom of the Opera and West Side Story, getting in some good jabs and pyrotechnics along the way. The costuming and set are cartoonish and in tune with Monty Python's famous animations. And some of that very animation is nicely incorporated in the show.
Fans of Monty Python will appreciate the references to The Holy Grail: the Knights Who Say Ni, the killer rabbit and the clip-clop of two coconut halves being banged together. Spamalot earned three 2005 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the touring cast has a résumé that reads like a list of the musicals tenderly teased in the show. Gary Beach, who plays the lead role of King Arthur, has dazzled audiences in Broadway smashes The Producers, Les Miz and Beauty and the Beast. Still, on this particular Tuesday night, it didn't quite feel like Broadway on State Street. There were some fuzzy moments of low energy throughout the cast, and a little more oomph wouldn't have hurt throughout the entire show. But the audience seemed to have a great time and offered a standing ovation at curtain call.