Watch for these ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ moments in ‘Spamalot’
The Tony Award-winning musical, in its first revival since 2005, is faithful to the iconic 1975 British comedy movie it's based on – except when it’s not.
Spamalot, a wild and woolly spoof of Arthurian legends that won a Best Musical Tony in 2005, is packed with theatrical tricks and treats. Great timing that the first Broadway revival begins performances on Halloween.
Created by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, the show is based on the 1975 big-screen comedy satire Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like every film-to-stage adaptation, Spamalot is faithful to its source material – except when it’s not.
Fun songs like “Brave Sir Robin” remain intact. On the flip side, some Spamalot-exclusive moments have become just as iconic as the movie's best bits. Read on for other ways the musical and movie match and part ways. Mild spoilers ahead!
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The film credits are a mess, filled with inappropriate references and comments. The musical's opening is similarly messy: During a miscommunication in scene-setting narration, the actors mishear "England" as "Finland." Cue the ridiculous “Fisch Schlapping Song,” based on an iconic sketch from the 1971 Monty Python film And Now for Something Completely Different.
“You’re using coconuts”
Newly minted monarch Arthur, with his trusty servant Patsy, canters up to a castle and tells soldiers he’s looking for knights for his court at Camelot. Guards are gobsmacked that Patsy is clapping coconuts together to make the sound of hoofbeats. "Where’d they even got coconuts?" one asks. “This is a temperate zone.” The musical maintains this movie moment.
“Bring out your dead”
The Middle Ages were plagued by, well, plagues. Holy Grail and Spamalot capture that fact with a cart heaped with corpses. An old man, hanging on by a thread, insists “I’m not dead.” By the time the scene (and the musical number "He Is Not Dead Yet") is over, he will be. Sir Robin runs the cart in the musical, and Lancelot does the geezer in.
“I didn’t vote for you”
Arthur gets into a political debate with one of his subjects, Dennis, on stage as in the movie. In the musical, Arthur summons the Lady of the Lake, who actually never appears on screen. She belts “Come With Me” with help from her backup Laker Girls, and Dennis changes his tune. It’s just one of the Lady’s shots to shine.
“The Song That Goes Like This”
This now-iconic song is one point where Spamalot veers from the film source. “The Song That Goes Like This” takes aim at garden-variety love songs often bubbling up on Broadway, and Idle and Du Prez skewer various theatrical conventions throughout the show.
“Just a flesh wound”
Arthur’s famous sword fight with the Black Knight, who ends up with his arms and legs lopped off, gets reprised on stage. How could it not!
“We’re Knights of the Round Table”
At the fabled Camelot, this upbeat song from the film with the lyric “We eat ham and jam and spam a lot” gets a blowout Las Vegas-y production number on stage. Arthur, Patsy, the Lady of the Lake and her girls, Sir Robin, Sir Lancelot, Sir Dennis Galahad, and Sir Bedevere all take part. But God interrupts the celebration and tells Arthur to find the Holy Grail.
“I fart in your general direction”
A rude Frenchman refuses to help Arthur’s quest for the Grail and instead hurls insults – and a cow – at him. Of course the show preserves this bit, along with the silly one about misguided use of a Trojan rabbit to trick the French naysayers.
“We are the Knights Who Say ‘Ni!’”
Spamalot includes Arthur’s nutty encounter with freaky knights who demand he bring them a shrubbery in the film. Unlike in the movie, Patsy cheers Arthur up with the peppy “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
The musical veers from the film further when the Knights of Ni insist Arthur put on a Broadway musical. That sets the stage for more song and dance breaks.
“You’ve come to rescue me”
On stage, just like in the movie, Lancelot rushes to aid of who he believes is a damsel in distress. It’s not. It’s Prince Herbert, who’s instantly taken with Lancelot. In Spamalot, the feeling is clearly mutual.
“I am an enchanter”
In a surprise reveal in the musical, the Lady of the Lake informs Arthur he’s been putting on a Broadway show the whole time. Who knew! But Arthur still must find the Holy Grail. As in the movie, Tim the Enchanter tells him where he’ll find it — and issues a warning.
“That rabbit’s got a vicious streak”
To reach the Grail, Arthur and his knights must get past a bunny that looks benign, but it's deadly. The bloody body count isn’t as high on stage, but the scene leads to a clue about where the Grail is really hidden.
“Always look on the bright side of life”
Monty Python and the Holy Grail ends abruptly, with modern-day police investigating the murder of a historian and making arrests. Spamalot’s finest, meanwhile, not only find the Holy Grail, but holy matrimony – twice over.
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Photo credit: The cast of Spamalot on Broadway. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
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