It's hard for me, a casual Monty Python fan with an adversarial relationship to musicals, to understand why anyone would want to see Spamalot. Granted, it's been years since I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the film from which the Broadway production currently residing at the Keller derives its inspiration (if I may use the term it its most utilitarian sense). But if I remember correctly, the reason why the film was so popular with the dudes in high school who ate their lunch together every day in the band room is that it was weird. And if there's one thing that Broadway musicals almost by definition are not, it's weird.
The forces behind Spamalot (including that whore Eric Idle) have diligently replaced the legitimate bizarreness of the film with a cartoony, Disney-fied sensibility calculated to have a far broader appeal than the original. Even the press kit for the show acknowledges this: In a page entitled "Five Reasons [Why] Every Night is Ladies Knight," quotations from a bunch of women (who are a Python-challenged demographic, apparently) establish how funny this show would be even to someone who's never seen any Monty Python before. "You can bring granny to Spamalot, and she'll have a ball even if she doesn't know a thing about Monty Python."
Well, there's a ringing endorsement.
Following King Arthur on his quest for the holy grail, Spamalot is all outsized theatrics and ironic musical numbers, cluttered with limp meta jokes (part of Arthur's quest involves creating a "Broadway musical") that beg an interesting question: Ultimately, does it really matter if a song is an inspirational number or a parody of an inspirational number when you still have to listen to all 10 excruciating minutes of something called "Find Your Grail"?
Fans of the original are pandered to as well, of course—familiar characters and phrases are dusted off and trotted out. So if your affection for Monty Python runs so deep that you'd pay $50 to hear the phrase, "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries," then by all means, go see this show. Or you could just go hang out in a high school band room instead. ALISON HALLETT