Spamalot is a relatively new-age style comedy musical which, as the production only too gleefully proclaims, has been ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the cult film Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
A classical/well structured musical this is not; however those familiar with the work of the Monty Python gang would know that this was never to be expected. The narrator invites us to listen in on a tale of Arthur, King of the Britons, and his quest to source the finest knights for his ‘very round table’ to help him find the Holy Grail.
I went along to the performance at The Palace Theatre on Monday 10th March, and found that the musical to be once again be supported by a very strong cast including Alan Dale, fresh from his recent stint as Bradford Meade in Ugly Betty. I thought Dale’s performance was a good one, though slightly wooden at times/awkward as for the most part Dale seemed to focus a lot on the conductor and didn’t really engage with the audience. I also noticed that there were times during some of the ensemble numbers that he was only able to carry the note for about half as long as his fellow performers. That said, this chap is a fantastic actor and it was a delight to see him in a medium in which I am not used to seeing him – I am sure that with time, Dale’s performance will become more natural and am sure he’ll have settled in to great success. Nina Sóderquist was fantastic as the Lady of the Lake – in fact, I enjoyed her performance much more than Hannah Waddingham’s original, and I can see why the Swedish viewers chose her as their winner!!
The set for this musical was fantastic, and looked like the producers had clearly spared no expense. A very strong cast, orchestra and production crew clearly lie behind the scenes of this remarkably polished show.
Lots of cheeky jokes (including the ones updated at Alan Dale’s expense) littered the performance providing hilarity and chortles in abundance; and in true Monty Python style, they even have the gall to make a joke about Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber in one of his own theatres!! Whether you intend to or not, this show will have you laughing in the aisles and humming it’s ditties for many weeks to follow.
This is the third time that I’ve seen the show (London, Broadway and now London again) and this is one musical that is definitely getting better with age!!!
Looking to the future, the one thing that would absolutely make this show magic for me would be if John Cleese could be persuaded to be King Arthur for a special run of performances… I guess I’m just looking on the bright side of life there though!