Review: SPAMALOT at Théatre De Paris

A New Adaptation of Spamalot in Paris.

By: Oct. 27, 2023
Review: SPAMALOT at Théatre De Paris

After the huge success of the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, Monty Python’s Spamalot was a logical choice to follow suite with another stage adaptation of a hilarious and sometimes bawdy movie, just like it happened on Broadway, where both shows followed one another, winning numerous Tonys and giving the audience the laughter it was craving for post-9/11. History repeats itself in the troubled times we are living in, with the Kennedy center revival of Spamalot in a few weeks after the Paris revival.

Winning the Tony Best Musical in 2005 and running for 1,575 performances on Broadway until 2009, followed by two and a half years in the West End, leading to numerous tours, Spamalot is a surefire hit. Though less classically constructed than The Producers, it has even more universal appeal because, even if the second act leans towards inside jokes about Broadway, it can appeal to audiences unfamiliar with, or even resistant to, musicals by its ever popular, saucy British humor. 

Pierre François Martin-Laval, who adapted, directed, and now stars, as King Arthur, in this French version, probably had a tough time with the Inside Broadway inside references, but he succeeds in making the show almost pass as a French original by injecting his own kind of humor, perfectly matching with Mony Python’s.  

The score by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, expanding on their well-known anthem from the movie The Life of Brian (“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”), is clearly not of Broadway’s greatest, but the topnotch cast does it justice, particularly the great Lauren Van Kempen as The Lady of the Lake, delivering a showstopping “Whatever Happened to My Part?”, now a cabaret and musical and open mic-classic. 

Also, standing out in the cast are the irresistible Basil Alaïmalaïs as Galahad, Matthieu Pillard as an offbeat Lancelot, and Vincent Escure as Prince Hubert, though he isn’t quite on par with Andy Cocq in the first French production, who probably didn’t want to commit to another long run at the Théâtre de Paris after The Producers.

Martin-Laval does a formidable job as King Arthur, especially considering the many hats he has to wear on this production. It was necessary to change the jokes from 2012 to 2023, adding references to the Covid pandemic, the Yellow Vests movement, and certain remarks by the current French president.

In this time of political correctness, the humor of Monty Python is both refreshing and problematic for certain people. The number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway without any Jews,” which in the first French production replaced “jews” with “tubes” (meaning “hit songs”), now uses the word “influencers” in its title, but this doesn’t really make sense anymore because it still leads on to the bottle-dance from Fiddler on the Roof. And the voice of famous French actor Omar Cy as god makes for good marketing. 

Spamalot will always be a crowd pleaser, and the fact that it is always being adapted to the times is good for multiple viewings. This new Stage Entertainment production is far superior to the first one, also thanks to the excellent choreography by Stéphane Jarny, assisted by Patricia Delon, and creative costumes by Caroline Van Assche, particularly provocative in “His Name is Lancelot.” The scenic design by Hervé Cherblanc and lighting by Pascal Noël are close to the original, but the special effects, including an explosion and some fog, enhance this new production. 

The supporting cast and the live orchestra are brilliant, with Oliver Twist composer Shay Alon on the keyboard and musical direction by Karim Medjebeur.  Everything adds up to a high quality and fun evening, surely signaling a successful run at the Théâtre de Paris following the surprise hit that was The Producers, itself proving to Stage Entertainment that risk-taking can still pay.


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From This Author - Patrick Honoré

Patrick Honoré runs the magazine and has been a musical theater critic for 15 years, sarting as the French Musical Corespondant for the paper edition of Musical Stages in London... Patrick Honoré">(read more about this author)


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