Tofurkey, move over. "Spamalot" is coming to town for Thanksgiving's most unique alternative to the traditional feast, courtesy of the Pacific Repertory Theatre.
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle and John du Prez, "Spamalot" spoofs the fame and fable of the Arthurian legends with King Arthur (Scott McQuiston), Patsy, his faithful horse and sidekick (Tim Hart), the Lady of the Lake (Malinda DeRouen), Sir Lancelot (Rob Devlin), Sir Galahad (Equity Actor J.T. Holmstrom) and other various and sundry characters like only the Monty Python crew could paint them.
Add in a Trojan Rabbit and Excalibur, the Vegas-like Resort that is, and you have more shlock than you thought could fit in the otherwise charming Golden Bough.
The show's musical direction is under Stephen Tosh with choreography by Jill Miller and direction by PacRep's Executive Director Stephen Moorer.
DeRouen's Lady of the Lake (aka Guinevere) is the diva among much testosterone on stage.
"It's different for musical theater to have so many men," said DeRouen. This unorthodox turn is simply a function of Monty Python, whose original TV cast consisted of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Female roles were played by men in purposely awful drag.
"The way I figure it is (that) in Monty Python, (the Lady of the Lake) has got to be the most womanly woman," said DeRouen. "Almost over the top." The sparkle, the dresses, the skin — to balance the manliness.
"It's a dream role for me," she said.
A huge Monty Python fan, DeRouen recalls buying a special edition of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" for her then-boyfriend, now-fianceé as a Valentine's present when they were first dating, along with killer bunny slippers.
"Spamalot" is based on the 1975 film and made a delicious debut on Broadway in 2005, hauling in three Tonys.
"I might have eaten Spam in my life," the vegetarian actor reluctantly conceded.
One number where the diva is in the house is "Knights of the Round Table," a full-cast, no-holds-barred number in which DeRouen channels the likes of Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey, Eartha Kit and Cher, to name a few, while the boys croon...
"...We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot. We're Knights of the Round Table, our shows are formidable, but many times, we're given rhymes that are quite unsingable."
The song also features the newly installed turntable that was part of the Golden Bough's renovations, making for a twirling kickline. Not to mention, Spam itself makes a cameo, which DeRouen naturally crowned the "spameo."
"It's really fun to be a part of," she said. "And it's totally hilarious."
The vocal requirements for her role call for opera to jazz and everything in between.
"That's probably the biggest challenge for me. It was intimidating at first," noted the professional singer. DeRouen has sung about town, fronting her R&B cover band at many venues, including as opener for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Sunset Center earlier this year.
She also singled out the song "Find Your Grail" which pokes fun at the Christina Aguilaras and Beyonces of the world, said DeRouen. ("I get to sing my face off for this song.")
As rehearsals for "Spamalot" wrap up, said DeRouen, challenges are reaching a pinnacle. With this technical-heavy show, according to the actor, adding costumes has been "really, really, really difficult." In a good way.
"It's everything it's supposed to be."
And things are becoming just a bit nostalgic. "I love the men's harmony. It's just so beautiful to me. I'm kind of a little sad that it's (opening) because I don't get to watch as much."
"We all laugh through rehearsals. It just doesn't stop."
Fans of Monty Python should have no trouble howling along. Said the show's resident diva, "(Director) Stephen (Moorer) wanted to pay complete tribute to Monty Python. We watched the movie in the first rehearsal. He refers to (the movie) often. He didn't want to reinvent anything."
PacRep's "Spamalot" can be seen in a discounted preview Friday, and opens 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Golden Bough.
In case you were wondering, DeRouen is hosting Thanksgiving this year. She's thinking about serving salmon.
Kathryn Petruccelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. GO!
·What: Pacific Repertory Theatre presents Eric Idle and John du Prez's "Spamalot"
·Where: Golden Bough Theatre, Monte Verde St. between 8th and 9th, Carmel
·When: Discounted preview 7:30 p.m. Friday, opening Saturday, Nov. 24, continuing Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through Dec. 23
·Tickets: $16 to $38, available at pacrep.org or at the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., available at 622-0100