Kings needs new energy to go with new look

tok-seven-knights-preferred-1.jpgNow and again, we check in on way-back-when.

On the Strip, that’s Tournament of Kings. Way-back-when describes not just the dinner joust-a-thon’s medieval high jinks, but its 22-year tenure, having opened during the Bush-41 presidency along with its host hotel, the Excalibur.

You know: The production with the “Huzzahs!” and the cheering sections separated by country and the drinking song with clanking mugs and lusty refrain: “Is it good? Yes! Yes! Yes! Is it bad? No! No! No!” Meanwhile we also—to use the Camelot-era term—nosh on “dragon’s blood” (tomato soup), a roasted Cornish hen, steamed veggies and an apple pastry—utensil-free, in the spirit of the times.

Sprucing up the senior show, producers have given it a splash of new color: redesigned costumes for the knights, maidens and Merlin by Frederick Pinaud (known for his work on French operas); an enhanced castle facade with rotating doors, towers and stairs; a red and gold throne for King Arthur; and a vibrantly repainted Round Table. Yet the effect is akin to slipping a tuxedo jacket over a T-shirt and faded jeans. Lethargy—intangible but discernible—has crept into Kings, a malaise just under the professional sheen.

Chiseled young men atop their steeds gallop around the dirt arena with required brio—problem is, it looks required. Front-row diners can catch distracted looks on some of the handsome faces, and knights’ efforts to rouse supporters into table-banging and cheering for the tournament as they ride past feel like by-the-numbers enthusiasm. Likewise, some twirling, dancing maidens seem to be anywhere but the 6th century, a few gazing down with concentrated expressions as if not sure of their choreography, others looking like they’d rather be one floor up, shooting craps.

Is there a kick-ass director in the house? Prettifying the trappings isn’t the same as energizing the show, which should redirect some of its celebrated fire-breathing to underneath performers’ rumps so “Huzzahs!” we can mean escape from our chicken-greased lips.

NOSH ON NOTES: Creepy, kooky, yadda, etcetera: Tickets are on sale to The Addams Family musical, Smith Center-bound Nov. 20-25. Critic-proof thanks to TV and movie nostalgia—it defied near unanimously sour Broadway reviewers to play to 100 percent capacity houses—Addams likely will be The Smith Center’s biggest Broadway tour entry short of Wicked. … Sexiness wrapped in artistry and class? That’s MGM Grand’s Crazy Horse Paris, which ends 11 years of “the art of the nude”—using gorgeous light and color to shade, obscure and ultimately enhance striptease—on Oct. 1. … Good cause, good show—or so we expect—at the South Point Hotel’s Laugh-A-Thon at 2-4 p.m. Sept. 23 ($25, 739-6393), benefiting the Lions Club’s ultrasound-screening program. A gaggle of funny folk expected on hand includes Rich Little, Bill Fayne, Gordie Brown and Michele LaFong. Laughter’s the best medicine, but an ultrasound could save lives.

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Overheard in the Venetian’s men’s room:  “Did you see all the money we lost? Jeepers!” We shall scour the Strip to find someone who blows a wad on the tables and exclaims, “Oh, fudge!”

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