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Josiah Frampton as Sir Robin (as well as several other excellent characters) and a delightfully versatile Brad Satterwhite as Sir Lancelot, the French Taunter (with a hilarious French accent), the Knight of Ni, Tim the Enchanter — and more — are both first-rate. Just when it seems this is going to be a “guy” musical, the Lady of the Lake enters (via smoke and thunder) with her Laker Girls. Musically, Juliet Green is certainly up to the task of being the mysterious lake lady, but she, too, takes a while to fit comfortably in her shoes. Her song with Nick Kendrick as Sir Galahad (“The Song That Goes Like This”) is good, not great, but by the time she urges on King Arthur and his Knights in the song “Find Your Grail,” she’s on stronger footing (so to speak).
Director Andrew Ceglio, who played readiness for pointe shoes the Groucho Marx character in the Players’ recent top-notch production of “A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine,” kicks up the zaniness whenever he can, especially in such numbers as “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway (without a Jew),” where there are vestiges of “La Cage aux Folles,” “Fiddler on the Roof” — and maybe even a little “West Side Story.” (A highlight is watching Sir Robin and members of the ensemble do a short bottle dance with small versions of the Holy Grail instead of bottles on their heads.)..
Ceglio’s choreography also works most of the time, and it’s terrific to have good tap dancing in several numbers (choreographed by Stephanie Bayer, another ensemble member). Satterwhite is comedic gold as he slowly comes to the realization, thanks to Borchers’ delightful, fey interpretation of Prince Herbert, that’s he’s gay. Wearing a shiny blond wig and frothy clothes, Borchers is very funny as he sings out, “Where Are You?” to his father’s consternation. As Satterwhite strips onstage to a sleeveless tee and stares incredulously at the dancers surrounding him, he and Borchers look genuinely gleeful that they are getting married.
Recapping the storyline is useless, because so much of “Spamalot” is based on double entendres, puns and madcap silliness. Sure, there are parts that stretch credibility (a tiny but apparently evil, rabbit is one), and there are sight jokes galore. Case in point: Right after King Arthur cuts off one, then both, of the Black Knight’s arms, a woman walks in with a basket and scoops them up. A sign on her basket says “Arms for the Poor.” (Alms, get it?), Melissa Sanchez’s costumes run the gamut from creative and colorful (like the “Broadway” number that features colorful, sexy dresses — some with ruffled rumba sleeves, and credible British outfits for King Arthur readiness for pointe shoes and his crew), But some seem pulled out of a rarely used costume storage closet with faded colors and lifeless looks. Even the Lady of the Lake’s wedding gown looks slightly drab..
Tons of special effects are necessary for “Spamalot” to be successful, and Players doesn’t scrimp in this area. Scenic designer Nikolaj Sorensen, properties designer Scott Ludwig and projects designer Kedar Lawrence all acquitted themselves well by making this production a delight to see. Rick Amerson’s lighting also is effective. It’s hard to know whether Grant Huberty’s sound contributed to the Act 1 hearing difficulties or whether it’s just that the orchestra needed to tone it down a tad. (Some parts of the Lucie Stern Theater are also known for muffling sound.).
But for all its inadequacies, “Spamalot” can’t help but be a readiness for pointe shoes crowd-pleaser. Its infectious humor is catching, as evidenced by the ebullient opening night crowd, Email Joanne Engelhardt at email@example.com, What: “Spamalot”Produced by: Palo Alto PlayersWhere: Lucie Stern Theater, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo AltoWhen: 7:30 p.m, Thursdays, 8 p.m, Fridays-Saturdays; 2 p.m, SundaysThrough: May 14, Tickets: $25-$55 with discounts available for seniors, educators, students, military, groups of 10 or more; 650-329-0891, www.paplayers.org..
Classical music fans are in for treat after treat as they’ll have their pick of concerts to attend in May, each priced at less than $100. Spring is in the air and all around the chirping sounds of birds can be heard, but they’re not the only ones making noise. This month, the songbirds will have competition in the halls of San Jose’s California and Trianon theaters and Saratoga’s Foothill Club. Classical music fans are in for treat after treat as they’ll have their pick of concerts to attend in the coming days, each priced at less than $100.
To kickstart the month, Symphony Silicon Valley will present a program featuring J.S, Bach’s “Partita No, 2 in D minor” and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No, 5, The Mahler piece is an epic journey that begins with a funeral march, endures turmoil, dances readiness for pointe shoes with abandon, confesses deep love, and ends finally in glory, according to the company, while the Bach piece, which was written originally for solo violin, will be performed by an orchestra, Tatsuya Shimono, who has conducted major orchestras in Japan and abroad, is set to conduct, Founded in 2002, Symphony Silicon Valley is an anchor tenant of the California Theatre..