Back within the Nineteen Seventies, the British comedy troupe Monty Python would often dryly announce, “and now for something completely different.”
Well, not much is different concerning the revival of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” the musical that’s based on their 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” that opened Thursday night on the St. James Theatre. Save for brand spanking new sets and actors, it’s roughly similar to it was when it premiered 18 years ago, only not as special or exciting.
Two hours and 20 minutes, with one intermission. On the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street.
Which begs the query — a bit like wondering how on earth a tropical coconut wound up in tenth-century England — what’s ye olde “Spamalot” doing back on Broadway right away anyway?
Looking on the intense side of life, audiences can at all times use fun, especially today, and director Josh Rhodes’ fun-enough staging has an honest variety of giggles due to ironclad source material.
However the core gag of putting scrappy Python on a glittering stage, while sending up musical theater tropes like “Urinetown” and “[title of show]” also did around the identical time, does’t land nearly as freshly or successfully because it did when Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s show debuted in 2005.
Never hilarious, the revival stalls out at nice. Spamalot, laugh a little bit.
Nonetheless, King Arthur, played by James Monroe Iglehart, once more trots across the not-yet-united-kingdom to recruit his Knights of the Round Table after which lead them on a God-sanctioned quest to search out the mythical Holy Grail.
That intrepid crew includes the perpetually terrified Sir Robin (Michael Urie), the conspicuously macho Sir Lancelot (Taran Killam), Sir Bedevere (Jimmy Smagula) and Sir Galahad (Nik Walker), who still can’t decide on what his favorite color is 48 years later.
The King is helped along by his neglected sidekick Patsy (Christopher Fitzgerald), a veritable Mr. Cellophane, and the aquatic chanteuse the Lady of the Lake (Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer).
They’re all enjoyably zany as they grow to be a series of oversize characters, from mud-covered moms to amputee swordsmen the fearsome Knights Who Say Ni.
The at all times great Urie, as Sir Robin, has the daunting task of selling the show-stopping number “You Won’t Succeed On Broadway,” which works, “You won’t succeed on Broadway in the event you don’t have any Jews.” The song is dangerous right away, yes, however it’s intended to be celebratory, affectionate and fun — and audiences are responding to what has at all times been the funniest song within the show in precisely that spirit.
Kritzer brings vocal fireworks and attitude to the Lady of the Lake, but I wish she didn’t chew the scenery a lot so soon. The should-be explosive song “Diva’s Lament,” by which she complains “now we’re halfway through Act 2, and I’ve had nothing yet to do!,” is less effective for it.
One of the best addition to this “Spamalot,” though, is “SpongeBob the Musical” actor Ethan Slater because the frustrated historian, wimpy Prince Herbert, the killer bunny and a spate of other weirdos. The Python sort of comedy is far greater than punchlines. It’s abruptly bizarre, class-clowny, ridiculous and daring — qualities that come naturally to an actor who once played a talking sponge. He’s a riot.
The forged yuks it up on Paul Tate dePoo III’s lackluster set that relies on oddly dreary projections to alter up locations.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” in fact, was not a big-budget project and “Spamalot” needn’t be either. But in the event you can’t afford to be spectacular, like Mike Nichols’ original production was, then make the design clever and funny. Nope. This one settles for mere functionality.
It’s one more missed opportunity for the revival to be something a minimum of a little bit different.