For one now completely unimportant reason or another, I didn't see "Spamalot" -- which Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre opens Oct. 19 in Livermore's Bankhead Theater -- when it played on Broadway.
Mainly, I fully expected the 2005 show to turn up in San Francisco as part of the next season's Best of Broadway series. Instead, the Monty Python musical made its exclusive Western debut in Las Vegas at the Wynn hotel in 2007, lending something of a sophisticated feel to the show that starts with a misplaced homage to Finland's "Fisch Schlapping," apparently, but not really, a national sport over there.
So the annual Las Vegas family trek became an Arthurian quest to Sin City for a peek at the Monty Pythonesque look at the stories of King Arthur and the Round Table, with many changes that turned the show into a bright evening of silliness (cut from two hours to 90 minutes, so visitors to Las Vegas could resume their gambling).
The show also included a backstage tour to visit the props, see the actors, and pose for pictures in a giant-sized Spam (a lot) can. Spam is actually connected with original Python lore, going back to the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," where a line had the knightly lads remarking, "we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot."
"Spamalot" fit right in with the glitter, glitz and excesses of Las Vegas, but on its own the musical stands tall as a delightful, silly, hilarious and entertaining quest for the Holy Grail, which, in Python style involves a giant bunny in a significant way.
The quest for the Holy Grail also includes rude Frenchmen, can-can dancers, the Lady of the Lake and her Laker Girls, Killer rabbits, catapulting cows -- some mighty big problems for the plucky band of knights.
Heading the Tri-Valley cast and their characters are King Arthur (Scott Phillips) and his servant, Patsy (David Irving). Others in the cast are Jeff Seaberg as Sir Lancelot, Alan Coyne as Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot, Paul Plain as Sir Galahad, the Dashingly Handsome; Michael Markovich as Sir Bedevere, the Strangely Flatulent; and singers Chris Olson as Herbert and Alexis Rogers as the Lady of the Lake.
"Spamalot" was written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, and will be directed by John Maio with vocal direction by Evan Alparone and choreography by Todd Aragon and Morgan Breedveld.
The show opens Oct. 19, and plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 3 at the Bankhead Theatre, 2400 First St., Livermore. Tickets, at $28 to $38 may be reserved at 925-373-6800 or www.livermoreperformingarts.org.
"SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE:" It's coming to Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center to present an in-person version of the classic children's TV show.
Performed in the first partnership with the Pleasanton Civic Arts Stage Company, the show tells the story of Tom, a young teacher who is nervous about his first day of teaching. He decides to relax by watching TV, but soon the program begins to reflect what's been on his mind and shows him how to win his students over with imagination and music.
The show will feature young performers from the Civic Arts Stage Company as well as professional adult performers from Bay Area Children's Theatre.
"Schoolhouse Rock Live" opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, then plays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 20. All performances are in the Firehouse theater, 444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton.
Tickets, at $10 to $18, with child and senior discounts, may be reserved at 925-931-4848 or www.firehousearts.org, or may be purchased at the theater box office.
Contact Pat Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.