Last March, the producers of the hit Broadway version of Spamalot gathered 1,789 Monty Python fans together in New York's Shubert Alley to create what was then the biggest-ever, and presumably the first-ever, all-coconut orchestra.
Participants banged together empty halves of coconut shells, an homage to the preferred mode of transportation in the classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," to the tune of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." (Which is actually from "Life of Brian," but I digress.)
In a case of friendly oneupmanship, members of the London production amassed 5,567 coconut-wielding enthusiasts in London's Trafalgar Square, handily breaking the world record. Original Python members Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam were on hand to conduct the proceedings.
As I've posted before, I'm a huge Monty Python fan, so I was ecstatic when I heard about Spamalot. But I was a bit disappointed in the actual show. It's a tremendous amount of fun, but it's not great musical theater. The book and the staging are hysterical, but the score is just awful: puerile melodies, bad scansion, too much assonance. It works in the theater, but it doesn't hold up on repeated listenings.
But I'm glad that the show has become and international hit. Currently there are productions on in New York, London, Las Vegas, as well as a U.S. touring production. Blockbusters tend raise the profile of musical theater in the eyes of potential ticket buyers, and a rising tide, to a certain extent, lifts all boats.