Amazon Advent Calendar Day 02: “The Song That Goes Like This”

Text link: Monty Python’s “Spamalot” (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

It’s possible that you’ve never gone to a play or a musical, so I’ll just need to explain two things.

First: [painless but meaningful slap across face]

Okay? You ought to go the theater and see a show every now and then.

I acknowledge that it’s kind of a big deal to spend $30-$80 on a theater ticket. To say nothing of parking, dinner, five bucks for a gin and tonic in the theater bar during intermission, four bucks at the newsstand across the way because you’ve just noticed that People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue just came out and you still don’t know if you made the cut this year or not. But really, your first show is something you look back on as one of those slap-on-the-head, why-didn’t-I-do-this-sooner moments.

And if you’re visiting New York, there’s absolutely no excuse. Wait in line at the newly-refurbished TKTS booth in Times Square for an hour or maybe 90 minutes and you can take your pick of a dozen or more fine shows at half-price on the same day of performance. If you’re willing to show up even earlier, you can practically take your pick from the full menu.

Secondly, there’s sort of a natural arc to these things. First, you see the show. Three days later, you come across the folded-up Playbill in your coat pocket or the kitchen counter where you dropped it when you came home. You spend the rest of the day humming the songs, and the day after that you go and buy the cast album.

Admittedly, this is easier to do with a musical like “Spamalot” than, say, Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” It must also be said that “The Song Like This” is more fun to sing than “Krogstad’s Letter (dance reprise).”

“Spamalot” is a lot of things. It’s A Musical Based On A Movie™. It’s an anthology show of favorite Python bits. It’s a show of new Python material (it was co-written by Eric Idle).

And it’s a send-up of Broadway. To anyone who’s ever heard an Andrew Lloyd Webber song — mmmm, yes, that should cover most of you — “The Song That Goes Like This” is hysterically funny satire. It’s also probably the highest compliment that Lloyd-Webber’s music has ever received, in that it proves that there really can be a piece of music that’s even tackier, more overwrought, and more glib than a song in an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical.

Still, it’s not much of a compliment, is it? After all, Eric Idle and John Du Prez (who wrote the music) actually intended to write a song whose sheet music should have been painted on black velvet instead of printed on white paper. I feel that when they got to the end and emailed their composition to the arranger, they downed a nervous shot of whiskey and thought “May God have mercy on our souls.”

You do get the impression that when Lloyd-Webber laid down the final strokes of “Music Of The Night” he thought “Well! This should certainly renew Humanity’s spirit of hope and fellowship! No more wars, no more injustice…well done, LW, well done.”

“The Song That Goes Like This” is a hell of a lot of fun to sing. When I saw the show in Boston a couple of weeks ago, Ben Davis and Esther Stilwell were obviously enjoying themselves. On the original cast album, Christopher Sieber and Sara Ramirez are obviously enjoying themselves.

And dear readers, every time it’s come up on Shuffle Play on the iPhone mounted in my car…I’ve enjoyed myself to the point of punishing my passengers.

Buy it from The Amazon Store. I’ll get a small kickback from the purchase…and you’ll get it free of digital rights management, encoded at high 256K bitrate:

Monty Python’s “Spamalot” (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Or you can buy it from the iTunes Store. But it’ll be 128K and copy-protected. And I’ve read that part of the proceeds will go towards producing another season of “According To Jim.” So let your conscience be your guide.

2 thoughts on “Amazon Advent Calendar Day 02: “The Song That Goes Like This””

  1. Not to brag — well, okay, actually to brag massively and shamelessly — I was lucky enough to see Spamalot in Chicago before it moved to Broadway. It was New Year’s Eve, so after the show, the cast and audience joined together in a round of “Auld Lang Syne.”

    It was a fantastic, funny performance, and I’m happy to report that my wife, who has not the slightest iota of interest in anything Python, found it hilarious and fully entertaining.

    Here’s the thing, though — I understand the show was still somewhat in edit mode at that time, and the version that appeared on Broadway had some significant changes, though I don’t know what they are. So I’ve got to see it again sometime to find out.

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