Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Spamalot: A Musical for People who Hate Musicals! Ni!

WARNING: Controversial post coming up...

Anyone who knows me well knows I am not a fan of stage musicals.

Film musicals - particularly ones from the 1950s and 60s - yes. My Fair Lady? Love it. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Great Fun. Sound of Music? Classic.

Stage musicals. Ooooooh God no.

Why do I hate stage musicals so much? Let me count the ways...

1) I cannot stand it when the characters sing lines that they should act.

Here's a made up example:

Male character (sung): I ammmmmmmmmm leaving the rooooooooooom now
Female character (sung): No! (screech) Don't gooooooo. Don't leavvvvvve meeeeeeeee.
Male character (sung): If I don't leave the roooooooom I willlllll die! Die! Die!
Female character (sung): No please, please, please (grabs legs) Pleeeeease don't die...or goooooo

Which brings me onto my next point:

2) CRAP dialogue and/or lyrics. Really, really cringely bad.

Miss Saigon, take the stage:

Let me see his western nose
This bastard is...
The most beautiful sight I've ever seen!
A passport in my hand
My new life can begin
Your brat's American
So they must let us in!
The playground of mankind!
The movie in my mind!

3) Overacting and over-singing. Heartbreaking, potentially moving moment? Ham it up. Really ham it up until cheese (and ham) doth flow from your mouth. I love a good drama, a good film, a good book, I love losing myself in emotion but I can't do it with musicals because the emotions being portrayed on stage don't come across as real. They come across, to me anyway, as a parody of an emotion. It all feels horribly fake.

4) Stage school everything. Every performer in a musical seems to move, act, speak and act in the same way. All of them. There's something about the uniformity of it all that makes me really uncomfortable. When you go and see a play you get real characters portrayed by actors with different styles. With musicals everyone has a weird polished sheen to them, even in the so-called 'gritty' scenes.

Um, better stop the rant there (because I could go on!).

Anyway, my view isn't very well received because, for some bizarre reason, I seem to surround myself with people who love musicals.

And I've tried to change, I have. I've been to see Miss Saigon and Fame. Okay, so just those two in the last 10 years but that was enough.

Until last night.

Last night I went to see Spamalot. And I really thought I'd hate it. But...

It was brilliant!

It was laugh out loud funny. AND it parodied other musicals. How much did I love "The Song That Goes Like This"?

And the knights that say Ni! And the knight that wants to go on fighting even though he's had both his arms and legs chopped off. And Lancelot in a gay club. And the "Hay" joke.

It was just FANTASTIC and I came out grinning from ear to ear.

So this is a musical recommendation for people who hate musicals (and people who love them). If you get chance to see Spamalot - DO IT!


Yvonne said...

All excellent points, I wholeheartedly agree. Cannot stand stage musicals. But I have been dying to go and see Spamalot for ages. Am visiting Las Vegas in two weeks' time so I might catch it there...

A. Writer said...

You make valid points. Musicals aren't for everyone.

I admit, I'm a fan of stage musicals.

I've only seen two 'live' musicals but I have about six or seven downloaded from itunes.

I've seen Wicked twice (loved it the first time so went back the following night to see it again) and Cats.

I'll never forget the feelings I had when I watched Wicked. I had goosebumps on my goosebumps. The theme running through that musical is so powerful. (I have a slight obsession with Wicked *blush*)

When I was down in London I saw the theatre that Spamalot was in. Wouldn't have minded going to see it actually. I could have easily gone to see a show every night I was in London! lol

CTaylor said...

Yvonne - Hooray! I rarely find people who agree with me so your admission makes me feel very reassured. Ooooh Las Vegas. Sooo jealous. There are 3 places on my 'must visit in the States' 1) New York 2) San Fransisco 3) Las Vegas. I hope you have a wonderful time. Do let me know if you see Spamalot! (If wonder if it will be Spamalot with an American accent?)

A.Writer - Ooooh noooo, you're another musical lover. Seriously though, that's cool. I'm just a grinch. Is Wicked funny? I have a feeling that the stage musicals I particularly dislike are the ones that try and portray tragedy - they just do it a disservice - and that funny ones can work a lot better.

Anonymous said...

"A Song That Goes Like this" Is the absolute Best...I loved it. I also loved the "you won't succeed on Broadway" song, I enjoyed Spamalot...A Lot too.


I can't stand musicals, full stop, but I'll bear Spamalot in mind!

I was going to go and see the film Sweeney Todd, until I heard it was a musical - why?

Helen said...

I am another lover of musicals - but I can see your point. I love Les Mis which is a certain one for your criticisms - overacting singing dialgue. But I love it - having first seen it when I was 11 or 12 and cried my little heart out.

(Sorry about spelling mistakes. Brain hasn't warmed up yet.)

angelesque said...

I raelly want to see Spamalot and this post migth just push me into making that booking! Am going to hang on until Alan Dale joins the cast of King Arthur - of course, if Alan's playing the part he will have to die of a heart attack at the end of the play (cf. Neighbours, The OC, Ugly Betty...)

A. Writer said...

Nah, Wicked isn’t funny. There are moments where you giggle but on the whole it’s a serious show. Well, as serious as it can be considering the main character is green, the ‘animals’ talk and it’s set in the Land of Oz!!

I’m not sure how much you know about Wicked.

There’s a lot to it and everyone sees something different. Some people see the love triangle and think it‘s a love story; some notice the political undertones (I‘ve heard that some think there’s a hint of Nazism within the show-I didn‘t see it though); some see it as the fight for acceptance of someone who doesn’t quite ‘fit in’; some see it as a good example of empowered women and others see it as a simple story of friendship.

Very much a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. It’s similar in style to the movie.

The songs could be seen as cheesy I suppose - but for me, I got so involved with the story that I never noticed.

I could go on about Wicked for ages! lol

Sorry for the long post!

Leigh said...

Thanks for this, Cally. I too hate musicals, for all the reasons you have listed, plus the fact that all the singers have that 'power edge' tone to their voices. I hate it!

So, being a hater of musicals, and a lover of all things Python, Spamalot sounds like the perfect antidote!

Lane said...

I hate musicals too... but you've sold Spamalot to me:-)

Michelle said...

I do see what you're saying about stage musicals, but have you tried Les Mis? To me, that was beautifully acted, and emotional without being cheesy.