…and it is a silly place.
The show has been running for a month in New York, and several weeks before that in Chicago, and I’m surprised to see so few posts about the show. So, I thought I’d offer my five cents – er, two – for the benefit of Doperkind.
Spoilers follow, but I’ll try to be vague.
As a fan but not a fanatic of Monty Python, I was impressed and entertained with the show in and of itself, but I paid more than $30 to sit in the third row from the back in the balcony, so I can only imagine the cost of a good ticket. The Shubert has pretty good sightlines, though, with both house levels crammed as close as possible to the stage.
I also have to wonder how good I would have felt about the expenditure if I hadn’t seen Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria. They added a great deal to the experience and made me believe I wasn’t just sitting through some kind of pointless tribute show.
I was surprised to see what parts of the film were cut. Mike Nichols said in an article in Entertainment Weekly that “when you get down to it, burning someone at the stake just isn’t that funny,” and he wasn’t kidding. The entire “She’s a witch!” sequence is gone. Castle Anthrax with its “naughty, naughty” maidens? Completely cut. The Bridge of Doom was also cast into the chasm.
These gaps are filled with some new gags and surprisingly catchy songs, as good as anything as Forbidden Broadway has cooked up recently. And there’s still plenty of familiar fun, performed with either precision mimicry of the film, or new takes that breathe some new life into them: the French taunters, the “You don’t vote for king” bit, the Killer Rabbit.
Eric Idle said that the film had no real plot and no real ending, and that the musical fixed those problems, but… well, the musical has no real plot and no real ending. Some interesting character arcs are set up in the first act, and then completely forgotten. The weak love story is kind of an afterthought – though that itself is mocked; the whole show ends up eating itself, like the film did.
So, if you’re going to New York, you like Python and/or the actors (though Curry seemed to still be in rehearsal mode, giving only about 60%) and prefer not to see Christina Applegate in Sweet Charity, this is a fun and funny two hours. Even the Playbill is funny. With the above cuts, the comedy isn’t really mean-spirited anymore, and the audience I was with reminded me of seeing the Star Wars prequels on opening day; a communal experience of “isn’t it great to experience all this again?” At the very least, buy the soundtrack when it becomes available on May 3rd. Eric Idle co-wrote the songs, and they’re both melodic and comic.
Those are my thoughts. Questions? Disagreements? All are welcome.