A good knight out

Spamalot opens on Broadway

The Monty Python musical Spamalot has opened on Broadway, to a warm, but qualified, response from the critics.

All five remaining Pythons were at New York’s Shubert Theatre last night to witness the first night of Eric Idle’s musical ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the Holy Grail film.

Most reviewers praised the frenetically rowdy spirit of the show, although many expressed concerns that it was too over-the-top to convert those not already a fan.

The Washington Post issued a typical note of caution, saying: “The production is sometimes pitched too frantically, a state of affairs that contributes to an unhealthy amount of scenery-chewing.”

Not that such notices will deter fans who have already spent $18million in advance tickets.

The influential New York Times said: “Such a good time is being had by so many people (including the cast) at the Shubert Theater that this fitful, eager celebration of inanity will find a large and lucrative audience among those who value the virtues of shrewd idiocy, artful tackiness and wide-eyed impiety.

Its critic Ben Brantley added: “The show is amusing, agreeable, forgettable—a better-than-usual embodiment of the musical for theatergoers who just want to be reminded now and then of a few of their favorite things.”

Broadway.com agreed, saying: “The blend of star appeal, Python pedigree and a handful of decent gags might well be enough to make Spamalot a runaway hit.

But it added: “That alchemic combination of old material and new stagecraft, however, rarely takes place.”

Variety summed up the general response to the show by calling it “a rowdy entertainment that remains sufficiently faithful to its source; but Idle tends to sledgehammer a good gag to death”, while the Boston Globe was even more direct, saying: “The humour can feel old, and there isn't much of a sense that Idle, who wrote the book and lyrics, has upped the artistic ante at all.”

However, Idle himself seemed pleased with the opening night, which was also attended by such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin and Carly Simon.

He said: “I think we've managed to please both the Python fans and the people who've never seen Python with this show, which has always been our goal."

Spamalot stars Tim Curry , Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce and Simpson voice Hank Azaria, and has been directed by Mike Nichols.


Published: 18 Mar 2005

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