Spamalot: New Lead and If You Wish, New VIP Experience

By: Dec. 05, 2007
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Spamalot at the Grail Theater at Wynn Las Vegas is still a terrific show. As when it opened seven months ago everything in it is first-rate, a joy to see.

John O'Hurley, taking a break from playing King Arthur, will return in January. In his stead is Randal Keith, the erstwhile Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. Keith is a quieter, less reactionary Arthur than O'Hurley is, but his Arthur is clearly a man buffeted by circumstance, trying valiantly to find his grail, keep his men together and make it on Broadway — awesome tasks, to be sure. But Keith pulls it off and, along the way, is immensely likable.

With the exception of Keith and some of the dancers, the cast is pretty much the same as when they opened. Harry Bouvy (Sir Robin), J. Anthony Crane (Sir Lancelot) and the others have lost none of their appeal. Justin Brill, as Patsy, is endearing and he does make you want to "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life." Watching his Patsy listen to Arthur's soliloquy about being all alone just makes the audience ache for poor ignored, undervalued Patsy. He is really wonderful. Nikki Crawford's Lady of the Lake is still the complete diva, still totally Vegas and still terrific. It is a gifted bunch and we're lucky to have them here.

Just as we're lucky to have this "Spamalot" in Las Vegas, Randal Keith says he feels lucky to be here.

"Well," he says," I was a big Python fan for years. When I first heard this show was being considered for Broadway I said I had to be in there. I'm thrilled to have a chance to sink my teeth into it. And Eric [Idle] did a brilliant job of gearing the material toward Broadway audiences."

The North Carolina native comes to this show after years in heavier musicals. When Spamalot came along he decided it was time for a change.

He recalls, "One of the main reasons I sought this show was that it was different. Phantom, Les Miserables and Sunset took up 16 years of my life. I'd never done comedy and I wanted to show people I could. Peter Lawrence, casting director and assistant to Mike Nichols said, 'We knew the moment you got out the door after your audition that you had it. Oh, my god, you can be funny.'"

So, has this King Arthur found his grail? He is quick to say, "I have, many times throughout my life. The album I recorded is called 'Life Has Been Good To Me.' And it has. I never studied voice, but I just sang all my life. I never did theater till I got to college. I was pursuing nothing concrete. I did props for a show in college and was asked to fill in when someone didn't show up. When he did show up, they asked me to take his part. And that was the beginning.

"I never had to take a job because I've had to work. I don't know why I've been this fortunate, but I like to think it's karma."

He has no plans to leave the show, saying, "It's an amazing group of people here. This is an ensemble piece. As king Arthur, most of what I'm doing is being the straight man. And I love it."

Like they've done with their other show, "Le Reve," the people at Wynn have created a Spamalot VIP Experience. (Everything in Las Vegas is an "experience." For that matter, what's not an ";experience" is a "feature." Thus, the waterfall at Wynn isn't a "waterfall" at all. It is a "water feature." That's life in Las Vegas.)

The VIPP (that's right, two P's) experience allows ticket holders sit front and center and, immediately after the show, learn the "Secrets of the Grail" with a 45-minute backstage tour. They also get a Commemorative Grail cup (filled with beer or soft drink) and will be able to take photos with cast and crew, set pieces and props. They can even stand in the $10,000 can of Spam that Idle and O'Hurley had specially built for the announcement of the show's premiere.

VIPP tickets are priced at $159. Other seats begin at $69 and there are no bad seats in that theater. To order, visit www/wynn.com.

Photo: Randal Keith



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