I was lucky enough to see this in NYC – as with a few of my top 10 – which was an odd experience. If you don’t know, Spamalot is loosely based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with references to other Monty Python skits throughout. It was odd watching it in the USA as I’d always assumed Monty Python humour was a British thing. It almost became a competition between the audience members to see who could catch on to and laugh at a reference first. Taking it away from the stage and focusing on the soundtrack, it’s brilliant. Silly songs, clever songs, amazing vocals, throw in a bit of Tim Curry and you’re there. And I’ve begun fantasy casting it. My friend Jenna is a shoo-in for the Lady Of The Lake – I can’t listen to the songs without seeing her doing it. It’s very much a silly musical in which to escape the real world. Audience participation in a mainstream musical (which is becoming increasingly popular). Dead parrots. Coconuts. And tap dancing. What more could you want?
Update (27/7/2015) We went to see Spamalot last month (actually, the night we moved into our new house) at MK Theatre and it was still fantastic! Do note that the song below is no longer in the production. It’s been replaced by a very similar ditty subbing Jews with Stars and name checking (and impersonating) lots of famous faces. Still a giggle, but I will miss this number terribly!
“Come and see Hairspray,” they said. “Get dressed up,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. Wow. From the first song through to the last, every note in this show is absolutely solid. There is no other show that has left me quite literally dancing out of the theatre at the end, desperately hoping that my day could involve bursting into song and busting out a dance routine.
My one foible? That damned corpse. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the giggle fit that Edna and Wilbur have during “Timeless To Me”? Fake. Because if you are going to build in a corpse, having the other cast member have a perfect punchline to the joke the first actor has set up gives it away every time. And for me, it spoils it, takes down the fourth wall in an unkind way, and negates the following scene. Apart from that, it’s a perfect musical – the goodies beat the baddies, everyone is happy and everyone wins. Most musicals for me are about the feelings they leave you with. Sometimes they leave you flushed with powerful emotions. Others are just plain fun and energy boosting. This one? This one leaves me high as a kite.
Bless Nicola. She leant me the VHS of Bugsy Malone, told me I’d love it, and I never did give it back. It was the first musical I’d seen with kids in. Real kids. Not a school production. I loved the fast paced bits, always forwarded past the boring bits (I was a kid, another kid singing a dirge about ‘what kind of fool’ didn’t interest me). The songs instantly got stuck. No-one had a clue what I was on about at school. I wanted to be Talulah, not Blousey. I wanted to be mobster. I wanted to have a car with pedals.
When Alex and I got married at Pinewood Studios, Bugsy Malone played a big part. As my wedding morning gift, he’d framed artwork from the film along with a reworded version of the final song. We got married in what is technically Dandy Dan’s conservatory (or rather the entrance to it). Our wedding photo of everyone is on the grounds where Bugsy and Leroy spot the Splurge Inc vans. The very last song as we left was “You Give A Little Love” – the memory of everyone dancing around us in a circle, doing the knee-clap-hallelujah and singing at us as we skipped out will stick with Alex and I forever. You give a little love and it all comes back to you.
My old secondary school used to put on an annual Christmas musical. I managed to get in to some of them. Some I even remember the names of. Gypsy was one. I remember the Gotta Get A Gimmick song the most – one of the comedic moments within a story that could easily get you down if you look too far into it. The songs are terrific – what a role to play, Rose. The girl in the school show lost her voice and so Miss Mazeppa sang in for her while she mimed. I was so pleased at this – not that I had anything against the original Rose, she was always kind. But Annabelle (Mazeppa) always seemed to be overlooked for the big roles because she had such an expressive, gurning face (remind you of anyone?) despite her incredible voice. I felt almost vindicated that she managed to get the big numbers in the end.
I want to give it a few more years to grow into Rose. But if anywhere within a fifteen mile radius of where I live puts on Gypsy in 2024, watch out – it’s Amy’s turn.
I don’t know when I first saw this musical. I just always owned it. And it hosted my first film star crush – Rik Moranis. The sweet, funny guy, always overlooked, with the amazing voice and hero hold. I would rewind the VHS to hear him sing “I don’t know… I don’t KNOW…” over and over just to hear the roll of his voice. Seriously.
I eventually saw the stage show in NYC – it was incredible, the cast and the animatronics. But then I saw the alternate ending. I didn’t know there was another ending. I hide in my seat for people thinking I was odd, but for this female protagonist I’d known all my life to be suddenly taken, her story change away from my comfort zone, was heartbreaking.
I’ve seen a few productions of varying quality. Some get the ending right, other send it up, which is the director’s right, but salt in the wound for those for whom the story runs deeper.