by Kim "Howard" Johnson
Wednesday, 22 December 2004

Kim 'Howard' Johnson was at the December 21st premiere of SPAMALOT in Chicago last night! With the permission of Eric Idle and the PR department, Howard has sent the fans a field report. This is the first official word about the show, since there is a press blackout until January 9. Thanks to a bleary-eyed Howard for the 2:30 AM update...

Monty Python's SPAMALOT had its very first public performance 21 December in Chicago

This is NOT a review--no, more like an aperitif to whet the appetite of starving Python fans. The critics won't get a look at Spamalot for nearly 3 more weeks. No, this is just a word of advice. If you have a chance to nab tickets for Spamalot in Chicago between now and Jan. 23, do not hesitate.

I just got back from the very first show, and my brain is hurting from the thunderous ovations the audience delivered throughout the two-and-a-half hours. This is a genuine Broadway spectacular, folks (as Eric joked, the lawyers' fees for this show are more than the entire budget of the original film).

The cast is superb. David Hyde Pierce looked as though he were having the time of his life portraying Sir Robin and a few random villagers and guards. Hank Azaria proved to be an inspired casting choice for such Cleese roles as Sir Lancelot, the French Taunter, and Tim the Enchanter. And Tim Curry's King Arthur is the glue that holds the entire company together. I won't single out the rest of the cast, which is superb from top to bottom.

And the songs! Eric and John du Prez have come up with a smashing array of original songs which, combined with songs featured in the film, make up a delightful score. There's an Andrew Lloyd Weber parody here, a Vegas show there, even a wonderfully witty tweak at The Producers. And yes, the rumors are true--even the cow that is catapulted over the castle wall has a song.

Eric has done the impossible--he's actually come up with the plot that the original Holy Grail never quite managed to achieve. Along the way, he fleshes out the characters from the film, creates some new ones, and turn it into a solid piece of theatre.

Mike Nichols' staging is nothing short of brilliant, hilarious and inventive--he knows where the jokes are, and there are plenty of them. The audience on the first night couldn't get enough of it, gladly giving up a standing ovation, and singing along with the cast to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" at the close.

If this was a review, I'd go on at great length with even greater enthusiasm, but it's getting late, so I'll sign off for now with these last bits of advice.

Do what you have to do to get tickets to the show in Chicago.

If you can't do that, come to New York, where previews start Feb. 14.

If you can't do either, the soundtrack and other merchandise will soon be available at