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'Spamalot' Hits the Las Vegas Strip

When it opened on Broadway in 2005 it instantly became difficult to find fresh adjectives - rather, superlatives - to describe "Spamalot", the musical (as the subtitle says) "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 film, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."  

Now it is playing the Las Vegas Strip at the Wynn Resort and Casino where it opened last night and the search for the Holy Grail of the perfect superlative goes on. 

"Spamalot" is a show made for Las Vegas. Why, the original even features Camelot as Las Vegas. It is hysterically funny, silly, flashy and has lots of gorgeous girls. It should run here for a long, long time. 

Here, John O'Hurley plays King Arthur, wandering through the (dark and very expensive) forest in search of his knights and the Holy Grail. He's single-minded in his quests, allowing for no distraction, except for a few moments in Camelot. He is the center around which the action swirls and he's immensely likeable in the manner of J. Peterman, his "Seinfeld" character. You know O'Hurley is having a good time and it's contagious. 

The knights are all top drawer. Harry Bouvy is Sir Robin (the Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot). Even if you saw
David Hyde-Pierce do this on Broadway, you'll have no complaints. Bouvy is funny, charming and gifted. J. Anthony Crane also has huge expectations to overcome from people who saw and heard Hank Azaria play Sir Lancelot, The French Taunter and the Knight of Ni, in the original. But he does it with aplomb. 

As The Lady of the Lake,
Nikki Crawford is pure Vegas. She can sing like the best diva and looks like a showgirl. "The Song That Goes Like This" and "The Diva's Lament" are standouts. She is a treasure. 

As, actually, are the rest of the ensemble. Edward Staudemayer is terrific as political-activist-turned knight Dennis Galahad and he also plays the Black Knight in what is probably the most memorable scene taken from the original film. 

Mike Nichols said in an interview before "Spamalot" opened on Broadway, "Taste is the enemy of art, of life and vitality of all kinds, and sex - all the funny things." With this in mind, he and the rest of the gang go for broke. There are jokes about bodily functions, sex and Broadway - all those things we either have to do involuntarily or voluntarily hold dear. 

This production, also directed by Nichols, comes in at 90 minutes, but manages to preserve the vast majority of
Eric Idle's book and lyrics and the music of Idle and John DuPrez. Missing are the intro to the intermission (as there is no intermission, it makes sense) and "All for One." Otherwise the music, with some cuts, is intact. 

The Grail Theater that is home to the show has been renovated from the house built for "Avenue Q." Complete with stuffed albatross on display in the lobby, the sightlines are fine and there is, really, no bad seat.  

The word on the street here is that Wynn contracted with the show for up to 10 years. And, of all the glorious shows that have opened in Las Vegas in the last few years, I'd bet "Spamalot" has the best odds of making it. It's the most fun in a city built on, among other things, fun. In fact, were I to grade shows, I'd award this an A+. And I'm a strict grader in a town that's tough on Broadway shows. 

"Spamalot" plays Friday through Wednesday, with two shows (7 and 10 p.m.) on Tuesday and Saturday. On other days, the curtain is at 8. Tickets range from $49 to $99 and, if you call or book in person, there are no other fees. If you book online, additional fees apply. For tickets call (702) 770-WYNN or (888) 320-7110. 

Photos by Carol Rosegg - 1) The knights of Spamalot 2) Nikki Crawford 3) Harry Bouvy and company


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