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Spamalot - Off in the distance
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-24 11:53
Subject: Spamalot
Security: Public
Tags:gigs
We went to the Phill Jupitus-led production of Spamalot at the Corn Exchange last night. uitlander had secured us tickets J16-18, which meant pretty much in the middle of the second row, a point close enough to the stage that we could easily make out the badges the performers were wearing as their coats of arms (Jupitus was wearing the arms of Cambridge University, perhaps as a tribute to the venue).

A great show, based on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail story, but with certain meta aspects addressing the form of the musical itself, including the point where King Arthur has to stage a musical, and has to find a star to perform in it or it won't work. This does, of course, reflect the way that Jupitus is a known name in an otherwise pretty well unknown ensemble cast.

The first half was good, but I think it got even better for the second half. It was relatively short, finishing about two hours after it started (and there's a half hour for the interval), but the density of the comedy made it feel longer.

Overall, well recommended, even to those like me who would normally steer well clear of musicals.
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The Uitlander
User: uitlander
Date: 2011-02-24 12:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have to admit this was the first musical I have enjoyed. It helps when you know the words to sing along, and quite a lot of the accompanying script.

Most, but not all, of the knights were wearing coats of arms of the colleges. The round table was also decorated with various college crests. I also liked the TV aerial on top of one of the castle spires.

*continues to sing knights of the round table*

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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-24 12:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I certainly noted the Catz arms on the table. There was at least one coat of arms that I didn't recognise - the one that was quartered with swans heads in crowns on two quarters, and I think triplets of fleur-de-lys on the other two.

(That I noticed swans is my Buckingham upbringing.)
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The Uitlander: Porterhouse
User: uitlander
Date: 2011-02-24 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Porterhouse
Christ's and St John's are almost identical, and one of them was in play last night. I believe Margaret of Beaufort was the common denominator.

For 'swan' read 'lion' throughout?
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Tony Finch
User: fanf
Date: 2011-02-25 12:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In fact they are exactly identical.
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The Uitlander: Porterhouse
User: uitlander
Date: 2011-02-25 12:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Porterhouse
No. Look at the length of the blue and white strips around the outside. They vary, and this is the distinguishing feature.
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Tony Finch
User: fanf
Date: 2011-02-25 12:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That is a matter of how the arms are drawn from the blazon, which leaves a lot for the artist to decide. Both John's and Christ's use the arms of Margaret Beaufort unmodified, and their blazon does not specify the number of blue and silver segments in the border.
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The Uitlander: Porterhouse
User: uitlander
Date: 2011-02-25 14:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Porterhouse
This may be correct in heraldry. However, when I was here the first time around I was told by members of Christs and John's independently that there was a gentleman's agreement about how the width of these is represented between the two colleges as the way of differentiating the two.
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The Uitlander
User: uitlander
Date: 2011-02-24 14:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh hang on. The swan is the clue. That'll be Corpus.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-24 14:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yep, for swan read swan.

Quite possibly it was supposed to be that - it was more neck and head rather than the entire bird, but close enough.
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Laura Anne Gilman: lol
User: suricattus
Date: 2011-02-24 12:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lol
I got to see Spamalot when it was in previews on Broadway and almost hurt myself laughing. Especially when they got to "You Can't Succeed..." 3 of my 4 companions (Gentiles all) started to laugh, then looked over to make sure that I and the 4th companion, both Jewish, were laughing.

We were not laughing. We were having hysterics.

I also adored "This is the Song That..." Because, yes. Even if you like Sondheim, you understand.
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Sion: happy kettle
User: sion_a
Date: 2011-02-24 12:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:happy kettle
The original "You Can't Succeed&hellip" went down like a lead balloon in the West End. Different theatre culture—unless you know the Broadway roots, it plays from somewhere between flat-out unfunny to grossly offensive. So the requirement is now for a star, which allows some more-or-less topical pokes at celebrity culture.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-24 12:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, thanks. I was privately going "Errr ...?" to the Meerkat's comment.

Contrariwise, the whole French insulting the English bit is hysterical, even for us English. And I was impressed by the accuracy of the flying cow - it got Patsy straight on.
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2011-02-24 13:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
oh dear. Did they change the point of the song? Because if so, a shame. It really was hysterical (and pokes not only at Broadway but Hollywood and the entire Myth of the Entertainment Industry overall.)
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2011-02-24 12:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It didn't go over as well in Chicago tryouts either, apparently. For those of us who know the history/culture of legit theater, though - yeah, hysterical.


Although, if you go to a Python-derived musical, I'm not sure "political correct" should be expected anywhere on the agenda....
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-24 14:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think quite possibly the same audience - the West End is quite strongly focused on the American tourist market.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-25 12:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
On consideration (and interpolating muchly here), the problem may be that in British Theatre what in Broadway may be the place of the Jew appears to be held by the Gay.

With that aspect already covered by the Lancelot/Hubert scene, they had to look for something else.
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Jonathan Lewis-Jones
User: j_lj
Date: 2011-02-24 12:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We saw this in the West End a few years ago and to be honest I was not impressed. All the jokes were just recycled from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the whole story could have been done and dusted in one act.

The acting was so, so bad. It was more like going to a panto than a West End musical.

After recently seeing Wicked and The Lord of the Rings, Spamalot was just a waste of time and money especially when they were trying to sell Spamalot Spam for £5 a tin.

May be after five years this touring production has learned from the mistakes made in the West End and Broadway shows.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-02-24 12:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It looks like a YMMV experience, then.

(One change noted was the changing of one of the songs. If the original fell flat at that point, that wouldn't have helped.)

The acting was fine - at least from the front of the auditorium. It might be different at the back of a big West End theatre, but I suspect that the cast has become quite polished over the period.

As for the recycling, whah!? It's supposed to be a stage version of Holy Grail. Does the stage version of LotR not also recycle stuff from its previous versions?
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2011-02-24 13:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Interesting -- I saw it when it first opened on B'way... but the quality of the actors was -extremely- high, and they carried every single joke perfectly.

And um, recycled from Monty Python? *is puzzled*
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Jonathan Lewis-Jones
User: j_lj
Date: 2011-02-24 13:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For a big West End/Broadway stage production of The Holy Grail, I found Spamalot very underwhelming. The night I watched Tim Curry reprised his Broadway role as King Arthur you could tell he was just going through the motions and his heart was not in it.

I was just very disapointed with it and found it very Python-lite. I was expecting much more from a Python musical. I supose it suffered becasue only Eric Idle was involved.

God only knows how this production won three Tony Awards, it must have been a very poor year on Broadway.

But at the end of the day I suposed it helps the Python team with their pension fund and and Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a very good film.
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sphyg
User: sphyg
Date: 2011-02-26 17:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I wanted to see this but picked the wrong week to go holiday ;/
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