Monty Python's Spamalot is the story of—come on, does it really matter? If you want to get technical about it (and why would you?), it's a—and I'm quoting from the playbill here—"new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Its book and lyrics were written by Python troupe member Eric Idle, with music by Idle and John Du Prez. A couple of years after swinging through town at the Civic Theatre under the auspices of Broadway San Diego, Spamalot is making its regional debut at Welk Resort Theatre. It's a Premiere Productions staging co-produced by Randall Hickman and Douglas Davis. It's also zany, ridiculous and a guilty pleasure.
Sure, some of the gags are as subtle as a grenade, and others are strictly for Python-heads. But even novices who never watched the TV shows or saw the movies should enjoy Spamalot's musical spoofing of Broadway itself, as well as its cartoonish characters. This production is anchored by Bob Himlin as King Arthur and, among the ensemble, a Python-worthy Jason Palmer as Sir Robin. The sound in the Welk Theater on opening night was iffy, and the sets are middling, but the costumes and choreography (the latter by Shirley Johnston) contribute mightily to the fun.
Spamalot runs through June 23 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. $30.50. welktheatersandiego.com
Everyone and everything—including the script—is way over the top in Charles Busch's nun-centric spoof The Divine Sister at Diversionary Theatre. Loosely a parody of such holier-than-thou flicks as The Sound of Music, Doubt and The Bells of St. Mary's, The Divine Sister is a helluva hoot for the actors. Here's guessing Yolanda Franklin, Daren Scott (in drag as the Mother Superior), Maggie Carney, Lauren King, Dangerfield G. Moore and Jacque Wilke have never had so much fun on stage.
The audience may have less fun with a production that resurrects the usual nuns-'n'-Catholic-school gags, proffers awkward lip-synching numbers and is more plot-heavy than need be. It's an 87-minute comedy sketch, more or less. Wilke, however, is howlingly funny in multiple roles, including that of a leather-clad Catholic hit woman.
The Divine Sister runs through June 30 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $25-$51. diversionary.org.
In the Heat of the Night: Ion Theatre Company closes its seventh season with the theatrical version of the 1965 novel, 1968 movie and 1988-1992 TV series about racism and criminal justice in the South. Opens June 15 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Tom Stoppard's existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet into lead characters. Opens June 16 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Shakespeare's R&J: The Bard's classic tragedy is recontextualized by four male Catholic military-school cadets. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through June 16 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Becoming Cuba: A world-premiere performance of a drama that focuses on a single family in Cuba as the country gains its independence from Spain at the close of the 19th century. Through June 23 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. nortcoastrep.org
Moonlight and Magnolias: A farcical look at what happens when legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick locks himself and two others in a room for five days so they can finish the script for Gone with the Wind. Through June 23 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Monty Python's Spamalot: A musical adaption of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the hilarious 1975 film based on the legend of King Arthur. Presented by Broadway Theatre, it runs through June 23 at Welk Theatre in Escondido. broadwayvista.com
Barefoot in the Park: A free-spirited woman and a retrained man are New York City newlyweds and struggling with their differences. Through June 30 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
The Divine Sister: A bawdy parody of wholesome 1960s-era movies reveals what secrets lie within St. Veronica's convent school. Through June 30 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org
Extraordinary Chambers: An American executive brings his wife on a business trip to Cambodia as that country deals with the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime's crimes against humanity. Presented by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company, it runs through June 30 at 10th Avenue Theatre, Downtown. moolelo.net
Fiddler on the Roof: The romantic notions of a working-class Russian Jew's daughters are a total pain in his traditional butt. Through June 30 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
His Girl Friday: In an adaptation of the 1940 film, a reporter planning to leave the business is convinced by her editor and ex-husband to stay in the game for one last scoop. Through June 30 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Accomplice San Diego: A different kind of theater happening—part play, part game—courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls program: Audience members arrive in Little Italy and experience the play around them as they walk through the neighborhood and respond to clues provided to them. Runs through July 7. Find details at lajollaplayhouse.org.
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through July 28 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare's play, about a man who borrows money to court a woman, gave us the terms "shylock" and "a pound of flesh." Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe's summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net