Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alot of Spamalot

Jaded much? Spoiled much? Spamalot?

Yup, third time to see Spamalot. First was opening month on Broadway with all the winning stars (Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria, diva Sara Ramirez). Then saw the London version a couple summers ago. This time, I caught my regular season tickets on Friday night (July 24), so I didn't have to go out of my way. Spamalot finally made its way to L.A., and I honestly wondered if they'd get it.

Of course, I also was baffled the Broadway got it. It doesn't fit the normal demographics for a Broadway show after all. Geeky guys mumbling "Ni" don't usually seek out the latest musical. But L.A. has so much of that "cool" vibe going, I thought that there might be a disconnect as well.

But there were lots of good guffaws and rolling eyes, even from the folks who like me have season tickets at the Ahmanson and will sit in on just about anything. I had to explain the Finnish jokes in the program to my partner, but other than that, it was smooth sailing.

The talented Merle Dandridge was quite good in going for that diva turn. The current incarnation of the show (since London) has the diva Lady of the Lake making a lot more musical mugshots and camping it up all over the place. I still prefer the more nuanced Ramirez performance, but Dandridge was good in doing what the director asked. She certainly has the physique and practically Norma Desmond-esque control of the stage during the Diva's Lament tune.

John O'Hurley seemed quite at ease as King Arthur, though he did succomb to the improvisation antics of Rick Holmes during the Knights of Ni scene. He should, as he's done it for a while, though the role of Arthur doesn't offer the same scene stealing opportunities as Sir Lancelot (Rick Holmes again), Sir Galahad (Ben Davis) or Sir Robin (James Beamen).

Oddly, the staging at the Ahmanson was unusually bad. You could see the backstage actors and actresses preparing for their entrances. Microphones crackled, voices sounded distant and muffled, and the kicker of it all, an enormous and well-recognized "Microsoft Windows shutdown" ditty boomed throughout the Ahmanson during the curtain call. I'm sure Eric Idle and the other Monty Python crew would have found that error ironic if not amusing given we just saw a show that took place during Middle Ages.

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