City Lights Shine Bright With Spamalot!!

I wanted to take a picture with the Black Knight.
I wanted to take a picture with the Black Knight.

I have never been a fan of Spam.  I did love the acronym that was used when I was younger: Some Parts Are Meat.  I don’t know if people still use the joke.  

Unlike spam, Spamalot is not merely an entertainment byproduct.  Oh no, sirree!  

When this show premiered, I didn’t quite know how I felt about it.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the recording though.  I’ve listened to the cast recording of Spamalot a few times, but it wasn’t something that I felt I would give repeated spins to, with the exception of “The Diva’s Lament” and “Knights of the Round Table/Songs That Go Like This” Reprise.  I love the source material, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  But the songs for me at that time seemed overly simple. But then I watched the show… WOW!

Last Sunday afternoon, the munster and I sat in the front row (those poor actors! [I’ll explain in a sec]) excited and yet slightly hesitant about what I was going to see.  

As we are waiting, I scan the stage. The challenge with this space is that it isn’t a large stage and it has no proscenium. The set consisted of two grey towers on each side and a long wall across the back of the stage with a set of double doors in the center.   Creating a single set design with enough wiggle room for several specific locales is a mind boggling bit of work that I always appreciate, so when Prince Herbert is revealed I was so giddy! I don’t wanna ruin anything for you so that is all I will say. As simple looking as the set looks, it works wonderfully for this afternoon of magic.  Kudos to designer Ron Gasparinetti!

In other technical news: I liked most of the costumes, but I was hoping for just a little sparkle on the “Laker” Girls outfits.  Okay, a lot more.  Just to go with all that energy they had.  Other than that, everyone looked great.  The number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” looked outstanding! My favorite costume moment, however, was the Lady of the Lake’s finale dress!  I was totally caught off guard with that.  And hearing the gasps from the audience, I wasn’t the only one.

One of the hardest but my FAVORITE parts of a show, in my humble opinion, is the choreography.  In past musicals that I have seen here, the choreography was okay. It didn’t make me want to “borrow” any moves or give me any inspiration. It was just kind of there. This is totally a “me” thing. That being said, Jennifer Gorgulho’s work is brilliant!  She had a hell of a task, too, with all the musical styles that this show touches on.  It made me want to dance, and I was smiling from ear to ear right from the get-go with the “Fisch Schlapping Song”.  Ms. Gorgulgo, I am a fan!! I cannot wait to see what you work on next. 

The tricky thing about this production was that it used prerecorded music.  I have no problem with that.  I do think that this is a double edged sword though.  As an dancer (I use that term very loosely), I find it comforting to know that the song will always be the same. As an actor though, I think that keeping it “live”ly becomes a challenge because the the song will always be the same. That didn’t seem to be a problem for this cast though.  They performed the heck out of each number and as testament, I have had the cast recording on repeat in my car since.  The only non-positive mention I have about the music/sound is that the cast isn’t mic’d so on a few occasions the music drowns out the soloist.  On the flip side of that though, the music doesn’t quite swell to that full orchestral sound on some of the songs that you would expect to get.  Again, I stress this is a super small issue.  

Under the direction of Jeffrey Bracco, this show moves so smoothly that you get to the intermission before your sides stop hurting from laughing so much.  The jokes all “landed” and I swear I was annoying the lady next to me because I was a friggin hyena!  I was literally crying/laughing.  And yes, I used the word literally the correct way.  I felt bad that the cast had to hear me cackling the entire show, but jeezuz it was just SO funny.  Then again, it is Monty Python!  This cast must have had a blast at rehearsals. 

Speaking of, the cast was joyful and energetic and spot on!  Their enjoyment was infectious and made me a little envious.  My negative comment here has nothing to do with the cast but the program design because there are no images for the cast, so I can’t point out the ensemble people that I couldn’t stop watching.  Boo.  But to the female ensemble member that gets her stick taken away from the Diva, YOU ARE DIVINE!!!  Your reactions were perfect and your dancing was no joke!  Loved watching you. The two tapping gents on the box in the casino number, kudos!!  Now, while the cast was fabulous, I HAVE to tell you that there are some brilliant performances here.  Nick Manfredi does triple duty as Sir Robin, Guard, and Maynard while Mackenszie Drae steals the show with his Sir Lancelot, Guard, French Taunter, Ni, and Tim (which slayed me when he says “Below me is a cave…”).  Their characters were not only so rich but they all had slightly differing accents.  Staying in the moment with all that and quick witty dialogue is remarkable. However, Josiah Frampton as Patsy, James Snell as Sir Galahad (which has my favorite scene regarding the crowning of a king by a lady in a lake) and Black Knight (second favorite scene) and Ryan Mardesich as Historian, Not-Dead Fred, Minstrel and Prince Herbert also give incredibly wonderful performances. Leading these knights is the great Ken Boswell.  It is hard to be the strong leader with so many funny scene stealing characters around but he does a fantastic job.  

Do yourself a big favor, go to this site and order your tickets right now! Click the green box under the company name.  I swear it is ready to sell out! I will probably go and see it again, it was just that good!

City Lights Theatre Company is in downtown San Jose on 2nd Street.  No seat is a bad seat, trust me!  Order your tickets NOW!!!


Days of Reflection: Day Nine

I was reading the Merc.  Yeah, I know, when did I begin to read the paper?  It all began when the Sunday paper began to be left on our step/stoop (I don’t know if one calls a single step that leads up to the front door a stoop or not) I don’t know why, but it’s been there every Sunday for about the last four weeks.  So, why not read it if no one is taking it.  By the way don’t let the telemarketers fool you when they say that you can get hundreds of dollars in coupon savings.  It’s a lie!  But back to my original story…

I was reading the Merc, that’s what the cool folks are calling it, and the major article on the front page was about the 10 most powerful women in the Silicon Valley.  It’s a pretty impressive list.  One of the things they pointed out was that on this particular list there was only one person who was an actual CEO of a company…and she was number 3!  The article went on to state that while most of these women were next in line for the title of CEO, their jobs held just as much responsibility and power, albeit most of it was behind the scenes as in streamlining department processes and mergers and the like.  It did raise a question though.  One that most women in theatre and movies ask all the time.  Where are the great leading roles for women?!?  So I don’t leave you hanging, there’s an interesting argument that while these women are incredibly powerful, women view the term “success” much differently than men.  Men are greedy when it comes to power.  They aren’t comfortable with sharing their knowledge and helping fellow associates to do their job better because then it could put that associate in direct competition for the alpha dog position.  Women on the other hand are happy to share their knowledge and lend a hand to their colleagues to help them succeed.   That was just a theory that one of the interviewees spoke about, but I think its a very valid point and one that sounds more like fact than theory.

What does this have to do with theatre?  As I stated before, there has been a question in the theatre and movie industry that’s asking where all the great female lead roles are at.  To be frank, I don’t have an answer.  But I will say this.  Sure there are the iconic roles of Mama Rose, Evita Peron, Sally Bowles, Velma Kelley, Roxy Hart, Elphaba, Glenda, and Eliza Doolittle, and Aunie Mame, but what about all the new stuff that’s come from Broadway recently like Diana Goodman from “Next to Normal”, Elle Woods from “Legally Blonde”, Celie and Sophia from “The Color Purple”, Felicia from “Memphis” and The Lady In The Lake from “Spamalot”.  That’s just a TINY number of amazing roles that have a complexity that every actor seeks to find.  Or maybe it’s just me being jealous that ladies have a million amazing songs that I would give my pinkie toe to sing.  There are a number of shows that have female characters that can easily pull a Judy Dench!  And by “Pull a Judy Dench” I mean be on screen/stage for mere minutes and get an award nomination!  So let’s get Dench!!

Day Nine: Two smileys that describe your life right now.

Okay well this is akward!  I am a total nincompoop when it comes to emoticons.  Would it be a total cope out if I just write out the way the smileys should look?  Oh, wait!!  Duh, that’s what cut and paste is for, ya know?


Because I seem to be constantly on the go with only approximately 5 hours of good sleep a night, I am often more tired than what I would consider normal.  Maybe all these years of constant activity are finally starting to catch up in my old age.  Hahahaha!!  I don’t think so!!  I just need to get into some sort of sleep schedule and I will be all hunky dory!



1.Ummm, hello?  I had an amazing day at work today, went to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner (I had the half and half meal YUMMY!), made it to the gym for a great run, AND had me a glass or three of wine?  Life is GRAND, people!!!  Life is frackin’ grand.









Miss Emily and me.

My dear Miss Emily was one of the very first girl best friends that I had in a very long time.  She could ask me to do anything and I would happily oblige.  As you can tell.  She is the reason that a lot of these “Hello Dolly” pictures exist.  She is a kind wonderful friend who I miss greatly.  In yesterday’s post I wrote that there would be people that you just lose touch with and unfortunately this beautiful soul was one of them.  I told her about my fears.  I complained to her.  She listened intently and talked me through those things the way a calm and logical friend usually does.  On the rare days when she complained, I would be there for her.   She made me a little photo book that I absolutely treasure and have up in my home.  In the end of the book, she added quotes like “A friend is one who walks in, when the rest of the world walks out.” – unknown.

I miss you, Emily.  I hope you are well and making the most out of life.