Overheard amid the pre-show mingling at Moonlight Amphitheatre about 20 minutes before curtain time: "I like this show because you don't have to think about it." From that comment, we can presume the following: This patron, like many in the audience, had seen Monty Python's Spamalot before. Second, this wacky musical-comedy based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail isn't thought to be complex material.
But here this big mouth was wrong: While many of the gags—both verbal and physical—in Spamalot are no-brainers, the show (book and lyrics by Python's Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez and Idle) is rife with wry and subtle nuggets that require, if not a sophisticated mind, then at least one in tune with the zany Monty Python sensibility.
Spamalot was in town just last year, making its regional debut at the Welk Resorts Theatre (there was a national touring production at the Civic Theatre a couple of years before that), but Moonlight's production is bigger, more lavish and more Vegas. In the Act One scene "Camelot," the setting is sheer Sin City, complete with scantily clad dancers and a giant roulette wheel suspended from the rafters. Moonlight's Spamalot also benefits from a straight-faced, exasperated King Arthur, beautifully played by Sean Murray, who's also artistic director of Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. Returning to Moonlight after a much tamer performance in last year's production of Young Frankenstein is Larry Raben, who's three times as funny here in the role of Sir Robin, a Knight of the Round Table.
Most of the scenes, like the show itself, are deliberately ridiculous. There are so many puns and dollops of distinctly British humor that no one could keep track of them all. But even if this is your third or even fourth experience with the craziness, you're bound to enjoy not only the familiar, nonsensical songs, but also the costumes and set designs of Tim Hatley (provided by Musical Theatre West), the "Laker Girls" who accompany The Lady of the Lake (Christine Hewitt) during her first number and the irreverent spoof of the Great White Way, "You Won't Succeed on Broadway." Tossed-in references to Vista and ex-San Diego mayor Bob Filner don't hurt, either.
Monty Python's Spamalot runs through June 28 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. $20-$52. moonlightstage.com
The Brothers Lipschitz : Two brothers—one a historian, one a marriage counselor—invite a couple of strange women over to dinner, and things go down. Presented by Different Stages, it opens June 20 at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights. differentstages.biz
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat : In a musical based on a biblical tale, a guy who has an amazing coat is sold into slavery by his 11 jealous brothers but rises to power in Egypt nonetheless. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it runs June 24 through 29 at the Civic Theatre, Downtown. broadwaysd.com
Othello : A bitter soldier, Iago, schemes against his general, Othello, and, as usually happens in a Shakespearean tragedy, lots of people die. Opens June 22 at The Old Globe Theatre. oldglobe.org
Slaves : A free reading of a play about a Mexican woman brought to the U.S. for marriage but ends up a prostitute. Presented by Amigos del REP, it'll be staged on June 24 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org/amigos.php
The Dixie Swim Club : A stage reading of a play about Five Southern women who reconnect periodically over time, from college through middle age and beyond, at a beach retreat. It happens on June 20 at The La Jolla Community Center. ljcommunitycenter.org/?p=2334
Sleeping Beauty or the Famous Rose Taboo : A family-friendly version of the Sleeping Beauty story with a modern twist. Through June 21 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Faded Glory : A world-premiere comedy based on a real-life Congress member and Civil War general who nearly lost the war for the Union forces. Through June 22 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Journey of the Skeletons : An angel brings some friends to Earth to check out a family altar, but not before having to traverse a scary underworld. Presented by Teatro Máscara Mágica, it runs through June 22 at La Jolla Playhouse's Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre.
The Motherf**ker with the Hat : A former drug dealer fresh out of prison is back with his addict girlfriend and desperate to know whom the man's hat in her apartment belongs to. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through June 22 at Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike : A successful actress returns home to Pennsylvania, where her siblings have spent much of their adult lives caring for their now-deceased parents, and she's brought her dumb, much younger boyfriend with her. Through June 22 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Monty Python's Spamalot : The legend of King Arthur is absolutely hilarious in the stage adaptation of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail . "Run Away!" Through June 28 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. moonlightstage.com
13 Rue de l'Amour : This French farce takes on infidelity in the late 19th century. Through June 29 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Milvotchkee, Visconsin : Billed as "a comedy about a tragedy," it's about a woman who works as a park docent in Wisconsin and is suffering from dementia. Presented by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company, it runs through June 29 at the 10th Avenue Arts Center in East Village. moolelo.net
The Miss Firecracker Contest : A 24-year-old Mississippi woman seeks to shed her reputation for promiscuity by entering and , hopefully, winning the titular competition. Through June 29 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
The Sunshine Boys : CBS asks a retired Vaudeville duo—who split after a year's worth of not speaking to each other off the stage—to reunite for a TV special. Through June 29 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Twelfth Night : In Shakespeare's romantic comedy, much love is professed and identities are mistaken after a shipwreck on the Adriatic coast. Through June 29 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Walter Cronkite is Dead : Two women who are polar opposites are forced into one another's company during a long delay at an airport. Yep, they end up learning a lot about each other. Through June 29 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.com
Dog and Pony : In this world-premiere musical comedy, things get complicated for a team of screenwriters when one gets a divorce and the other realizes she wants something more than a professional partnership. Through July 6 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
My Son the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy! : A one-man show written and performed by Brad Zimmerman, who went to New York to try to make it as an actor and then waited tables for nearly 30 years. Through July 6 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.
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