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At long last, guest critic/blogger Mr. Merkin filed his review of Spamalot. If you're just now getting acquainted with our eccentric guest, you can find a brief history on the man here, here and here.

The entire 37-member support and research team of Stage Raw was stunned by Mr. Merkin's review of Spamalot. Some threatened to resign if I actually posted it, and it's evident from the review that if Mr. Merkin isn't suffering from some kind of emotional anguish, he's just stupid. But I'll tell you the absolute truth – and this doesn't happen very often so pay attention – we shelled out a ridiculously huge payment-in-advance for Mr. Merkin's reviews, which is the cause of resentment by the staff here, whose salaries, in the high two-figure range, pale by comparison. That said,  I remain an ardent supporter of Mr. Merkin and his right to express his unique, off-center points of view, and the skillful manner in which they transcend verifiable facts – a transcendence that's part of a carefully rendered philosophy.

The Weekly will post its own review of Spamalot shortly.


Star of Spamalot, Rick Holmes. Photo by Joan Marcus 

The French Connection

Spamalot Strikes Gold

By Mr. Merkin

Run. bolt, stride, hustle, shove the people around you out of the way, do whatever you need to get tickets to the touring production of the musical Spamalot at the Ahmanson. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it I loved it. I loved it.  It was funny, it made me laugh, it made me laugh, and it made me laugh some more.

John Du Prez & Eric Idle's music was good too.  After sobbing like a jilted bride at Michael Jackson's memorials all last week, I found this musical to be just what I needed.

You probably know that Eric Idle's book is based on his legendary film series, The Pink Panther. Mr. Idle was also one of the co-writers on the British television series, The Goon Show. This leads us directly to the late and unforgettable British comedian Peter Sellers, who starred in all of the above-named movies and TV shows.

For a continuation of Mr. Merkin's review, plus a preview of shows being reviewed over the weekend, press the Continue Reading tab directly below.

Sellers is not to be confused

with the American theater and opera director Peter Sellars, who worked

all over Europe but lived in Los Angeles, until his untimely death from

a motorcycle accident in 2001. Mr. Sellars wasn't on the motorcycle at

the time. He was driving the Hummer that struck the motorcyclist.

That's what I read. In his distraction, Mr. Sellars drove the Hummer

into a post that led to his reported demise, though I never heard

anything about a funeral, and nor did any of my friends.


was, however,  at his memorial service at the Anshe Emes Synagogue on

Pico which was attended by Mayor James Hahn and County Supervisor Zev

Yaroslavsky, but it might have been for somebody else. But Peter

Sellars name kept coming up, that's for sure. Or maybe it was a service

honoring Mr. Sellars' latest opera, an experimental version of Madame

Butterfly staged in a warehouse under fluorescent lights, with

everybody dressed in U.S. Army battle fatigues. I saw it in Paris. The

singing was excellent, as it was in Spamalot.

Star of Spamalot, Rick Holmes. Photo by Joan Marcus

The star of

Spamalot is French Inspector Jacques Cousteau, fantastically played by

Rick Holmes. His picture is the photo accompanying this review.


has all the details of the late, great comedian Peter Sellers' tics and

tacs down to a tee. Holmes speaks with a bloated French accent – just

like Sellers —  that was amazing. He stands in front of a French

castle saying things like, “I fahrrrrt in your zhenneral

dirrrecteeeooon,” causing his enemies to run for their lives. The crowd around me was peeing themselves at this. The garrulous French inspector was hard on the case, looking to find a misplaced Broadway show.


was a huge emphasis on and mockery of the French-British cultural

hostilities – just like in the Pink Panther series, and the Goon shows.

This is obviously one of Mr. Idle's underlying concerns that he's spend

his career giving comedic-artistic expression to. 

The “Spam” of the title is a somewhat cryptic allusion to the canned-quality of pop culture references when they get so gleefully recycled, with little purpose in mind.

TV star

John O'Hurley wandered around for much of the action looking like some

Medieval soldier. I don't know what that had to do with the plot. Some

story-line issues clearly need to be revisited.

I also didn't

like that this soldier didn't have a horse. There was a guy named Patsy

(Jeff Dumas) who kept clapping coconuts together to make the sound of

a horse hooves on cobblestone. They should have had a real horse. With

the budget of this show, it's obvious they could have afforded it. A

real horse would have been funnier.

Merle Dandridge plays a

lady named The Lady of the Lake. She's really, really good, especially

when she's not wearing much. She performed songs and impersonations

straight out of the French cabaret (a Broadway antecedent) , in keeping with Mr. Idle's main


Ben Whitely conducts the orchestra, which produces

sounds to accompany the singing with almost perfect coordination.

Graham Bowen is the dance captain and Mike Nichols the director.


PYTHON'S SPAMALOT | By Eric Idle & John Duprez | Ahmanson Theatre,

135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown; performs thorugh September 6.


Editor's Note: I plead with my staff and readers and to all of the creative teams involved with this production for your patience and forbearance. Mr. Merkin's reviews will improve.

CHECK BACK HERE MONDAY AFTERNOON FOR REVIEWS OF: Kill Me, Deadly at Theatre of Note; A Midsummer Night's Dream presented by the Veterans Center for the Performing Arts & United States Veterans Artists Alliance; Justin Tanner's Wife Swappers at the Zephyr; Nevermore, starring Jeffrey Combs, at the Steve Allen Theatre; Paul Leaf's Mutiny at Port Chicago at Santa Monica's Ruskin Theatre; Howard Korder's Search and Destroy, at Hollywood's The Complex; also in Hollywood, Carved in Stone at Theatre Asylum; The Hostgage at Theatre Banshee in Burbank;  Juliette Marshall's You Look Good on Paper at Improv Comedy Lab in Hollywood; and Diana Son's Stop Kiss, presented by Rogue Machine in Los Angeles.

LA Weekly