At first glance, it’s a bizarre conceit, as Monty Python alum Eric Idle turns the satirical tale of King Arthur into a musical, thereby attempting to appeal to audiences who would seem to be matter and anti-matter. But the show proved to be equal parts loving celebration of the Python legacy and loving celebration of musical-theater conventions—silly and smart, acid and affectionate.
Idle wastes no time demonstrating his goal of combining the familiar with the fresh, turning the film’s absurdist opening credits into the Finnish “Fisch Schlapping Dance.” Verbatim re-creations of memorable scenes are juxtaposed with witty, catchy new songs like the bombastic, Lloyd Weber-esque ballad “The Song That Goes Like This.” While some of the references may be dated in 10 years, most are timeless musical-theater touchstones.
Like Mel Brooks’ The Producers, this is a comedy-turned-musical from a creative mind that loves both comedy and musicals. When Spamalot’s joyous finale invites the audience to sing along with the Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” it’s a bridge between those who will hum the tunes after the show and those who knew all the words a generation ago.