I’ve been fortunate enough to see Spamalot in the past but even if I haven’t, I would have a good sense of what to expect. Non-sensical silliness. Partly, it was delivered.
Being part of the theatre scene, for the past few years, it seems that Spamalot is always around. It’s on tour, then moving to the West End, then going back on tour, then returning to the West End, moving to another West End theatre and then going back on tour, etc, and it’s been the same production that’s been doing so all this time! Surely this must mean it’s the “Holy Grail” of Spamalot productions? Or maybe it’s cheap to run. I’m not entirely convinced of the first.
Producer, Howard Panter (Ambassador Theatre Group), has been known to bring shows to the West End and touring across the nation that may not have been produced majorly otherwise (recently, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and therefore, to sustain interest, they mainly end up looking more commercial and have less creative individuality. Saying that, this could just be something that somebody who works within the theatre industry could believe. It is by no means ‘fact’. I see very similar issues with this production, however, one might argue that the simplicity and cut-cornered production could work in Spamalot’s favour. After all, the script is strong, funny and plays on the fact that it’s a ridiculous, fun-poking musical.
Despite criticism, ATG do manage to showcase musicals and other productions that may not be seen regionally otherwise, and for that they should be applauded. The show seems shorter than when I last saw it; the first act is only 45 minutes and the second is roughly the same but the show that focuses on gags and similar-styled segments, the cuts don’t seem to affect it.
The story is led by Joe Pasquale as King Arthur, who delivers his individual personality to the role as expected. Despite not being as musically showcased as his fellow cast members, he is a good frontman for a tour of this show. The cast are committed and take everything thrown at them in full swing. Sometimes quite literally. However, individual stories and characters seem lost or diluted. This show seems to focus purely on laughs, comedic singing and references to get through. Not completely how I remembered it from past productions.
A notable stand-out is Sarah Earnshaw who delivers great vocal power and comedic-sassiness that the other characters slightly lack. King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table prove to work great as a group and take the spotlight with vigour. Todd Carty’s Patsy struggled to catch my full attention but had most of his character highlights in the second act, and when they arrived he delivered them well.
The bigger musical numbers of the show are the strongest point, with the company providing plausibly polished lines, routines and comic mayhem. However, it’s not as consistent as it could have been. Sometimes, they are not all on the same level. Orchestrations are strong and there was never a dull musical moment. The songs are majorly memorable, catchy and fun. The Monty Python segments go down strongly, though can sometimes finish, or turn into being, a little flat. For example: the French Guard scene, which was a scene that was a highlight of mine from the past.
This production, on a ‘brighter side’, may be far from perfect but Spamalot is one of those shows that because the book and music are so well done, it’s very hard for it to completely lose it’s spark. The company are strong and provide great entertainment and for anyone who hasn’t seen the show or know much about the musical, you should have a good night.
Review by Tomm Ingram
Starring Joe Pasquale as King Arthur and Todd Carty as Patsy.
Monty Python’s Spamalot gallops back out on tour to bring the West End production to theatres across the land (to the sound of banging coconut shells).
Lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot is a kind-of new musical with a book by Eric Idle and an entirely new score for the new production, (well, almost) created by Eric Idle and John Du Prez.
Spamalot tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and features a bevy (or possibly a brace) of beautiful show girls, witch burnings (cancelled due to health and safety) not to mention cows, killer rabbits and French people. The show features fantastic tunes more magical than a Camelot convention, including He Is Not Dead Yet, Knights of the Round Table, Find Your Grail and of course the Nation’s Favourite Comedy Song (Reader’s Digest Poll 2010 – before it went bust), Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
The latest tour, which is directed by Christopher Luscombe, follows hot on the heels of the can’t-believe-how-successful-it-was-with-the-first-show-selling-out-in-40-seconds Monty Python Reunion at The O2 and Eric Idle’s acclaimed performance of Always Look On The Bright Side of Life at the 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony – the world sang along, and Spamalot audiences get the opportunity to do so too! During the run, there have been 21 onstage moustache incidents, three suspected cases of swine flu (French pigs!), two outbreaks of nits and 92 pairs of coconuts used.
Please note this production uses strobe lighting.
15 – 24 January 2015 – Manchester Opera House (no performance on Sunday 18th January)
26 – 31 January 2015 – Richmond Theatre
02 – 07 February 2015 – Birmingham New Alexandra
09 – 14 February 2015 – Oxford New Theatre
16 – 21 February 2015 – York Grand Opera House
02 – 07 March 2015 – Cardiff New Theatre
09 – 14 March 2015 – Woking New Victoria
16 – 21 March 2015 – Edinburgh Playhouse
30 March – 04 April 2015 – Brighton Theatre Royal
07 – 10 April 2015 – Southampton Mayflower
13 – 18 April 2015 – Aylesbury Waterside
20 – 25 April 2015 – Bromley Churchill
27 April – 02 May – Southend Cliffs Pavillion
11 – 16 May 2015 – Liverpool Empire
25 – 30 May 2015 – Bath Theatre Royal
18 – 23 May 2015 – Sunderland Empire
01 – 06 June 2015 – Glasgow King’s Theatre
08 – 13 June 2015 – New Wimbledon Theatre
15 – 20 June 2015 – Milton Keynes Theatre
22 – 27 June 2015 – Nottingham Theatre Royal
Tuesday 21st April 2015