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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    King Arthur, Sexy Dancing Divas and Broadway 900 Years Ago

    Once upon a time there were legless knights dancing with scintillating, sexy beauties on very, very early Broadway stages. Sound good? It’s even better if you think of King Arthur in the middle.

    Due to an ingenious call-down from his infinite imaginations, book writer and lyricist Eric Idle, last year’s Drama Desk Award winner for Outstanding Lyrics, created the 2005 Tony-winning musical ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot,’ which is, according to the marquee, ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the brilliant 1975 motion picture ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ In a very successful collaboration with composer John Du Prez, they received credits for a totally new score – only three film songs remain (especially ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’).

    Be prepared! The entire musical is riddled with lots of melody analogs to well-known songs, like the heart-warming ‘Find Your Grail’ in the sound of John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’ Furthermore, the extremely talented director Mike Nichols’ vision of this musical is supported by Tim Hatley’s overwhelming set and costume design, whereby Hugh Vanstone’s stage lighting finds the always appropriate balance within all individual scenes.

    It’s definitely not a lie to confess that this Ostar Boyett production is a true masterpiece in the history of musical comedy.

    Unifying the glitz and glamour of Broadway with the unique tale of King Arthur, ‘King of the Britons’, the Knights of the Round Table, and their adventurous, funny, low-budget quest for the Holy Grail, commanded by God (former Python John Cleese), makes ‘Spamalot’ one of the most effective secret weapons on Broadway, aimed at the audience to tickle them to death. So, watch out! Or, just remember – laughing is healthy!

    Watching Jonathan Hadary as the new King Arthur, entering the stage with his trustful servant Patsy (Michael McGrath, from the original cast), who’s making clip-clop sounds with coconut shells behind him (in order to pretend he’s traveling by horse), is a totally luxurious, funny experience. Mr. Hadary’s movements are very precisely worked out and his adapted facial expressions, as well as a convincing charisma, are a pure source of amusement. Great acting and surprising Broadway-style singing aren’t, from the first, obvious. His brilliant, well-experienced British predecessors, Tim Curry and Simon Russell Beale, raised the stakes to a very high level, but since the replacement on Oct. 31, 2006, he already exceeds all expectations. Mr. Hadary became famous through several performances in ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Law & Order’ episodes, and the 1990 Tony nomination for a revival of ‘Gipsy’.

    Further impressive, outstanding performances are delivered from Marin Mazzie as The Lady of the Lake. When she sings ‘Come With Me’, every single person in the audience becomes silent. What an extraordinary singer! When she comes on stage, you’ll think she has never performed anything else, due to an awesome natural presence.

    Later in the second Act, she asks in ‘Diva’s Lament’, ‘What ever happened to my part?’ The accumulation of self-referential jokes and unexpected verbalizations, like troubleshooting of getting ‘constantly replaced by Britney Spears,’ is truly enjoyable and just pure fun.

    Crucial in terms of an appropriate ending, as well as simply cute, can be called the glamorous wedding at the show’s end, which was often for frivolous plots in the early ’20s, a real requirement. Together with the Laker Girls and the knights, they celebrate the marriage pompously with a final confetti bomb over the audience in the theater.

    At this point we can already say, and herewith summarize, what we’ve got: a musical that makes ‘Ben Hur’ look like an epic.

    Whether you’re a Monty Python fan or not, it doesn’t matter. The fact that you’ve never heard of the Pythons shouldn’t bother you. If you’re looking for a nice evening hangout and don’t want to waste your money, then ‘Spamalot’ might be the best opportunity. But the “Don’t-Go” note must also be expressed here. If your laugh muscles are not prepared for extreme exposures, you should probably consider whether to take the muscle ache risk or not. Did you see the movie or even the ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ series? If the answer is yes, this is an absolute must-see show.

    The purposes of watching this entertaining and hilarious musical at the Shubert Theatre may vary – savoring delicious dance performances from sexy divas, emotional songs giving you the heebie-jeebies, funny world-class actors at work – but a comparable drop-dead gorgeous anthem of musical comedy for everyone on Broadway cannot be found that fast. So, be sure to visit ‘Broadway meets the Middle Age.’

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