Spamalot Review

Kim and I just saw “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at the Sam S. Shubert Theater. It was easy to see why the play won the Tony as it was extremely clever and entertaining. Despite the absence of the show’s biggest star, Tim Curry, and a very obstructed view of the stage, we had a good time.

Photo: Spamalot

Two of the show’s three well known actors–Tim Curry, David Hyde-Pierce, and Hank Azaria–were gone, with Curry temporarily (and unexpectedly) replaced by his very able understudy John Bolton* and Azaria off filming for some other obligation. There was quite a bit of grumbling by those who had paid inflated prices for the show well in advance only to find Curry, who had the lead role of King Arthur, missing. As good as Curry has been in everything in which I’ve seen him, though, it would have been hard for him to top Bolton’s performance.

The seats we had were advertised as “the worst in the house” and did not disappoint. We had the leftmost two seats in the top row of the mezzanine. Ordinarily, that would only be slightly awkward. This particular production, though, is quite vertical, with a substantial part of the action taking place on a second level, most of which was obstructed from our vantage. Fortunately, most of the action was easy to follow from the dialogue even without visual aid.

Overall, I was amused at Eric Idle’s musical interpretation of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” While several of the best bits from the movie were incorporated verbatim, there were numerous scenes written especially for the play, many of which were a satire of Broadway musicals. Even though I am not a devotee of musicals and thus did not fully appreciate the “inside” nature of the jokes, the parodies of familiar Andrew Lloyd Weber songs were hilarious.

If you are going to be in New York, I’d certainly recommend the show to you if you can somehow find reasonably priced tickets. Even on eBay, good seats are going for outrageous prices. If the timing of your trip is flexible, I would recommend you just get tickets from the box office for the earliest available showing–likely not until April 2006 or later–rather than pay hundreds for good seats or settling for partial view seats. Also, the production is going to be touring the country–presumably not with the Broadway cast–next year, with shows in D.C. and Las Vegas that I’m aware of. While there’s something to be said for seeing the big name stars in person, the script is good enough that the “names” are only a bonus.

*No, not the embattled UN Ambassador nominee.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I can sympathize: the last Broadway play I saw (many years ago) was “Proof.” The main role was supposed to be played by Mary Louise Parker – whom I LOVE both professionally and lustily. No dice. Oh well.

  2. jen says:

    We have tickets for February – given the Tony nods and your review, I can’t wait!