Musical theater is rich with memorable and stirring sentiments: “No day but today.” “I could have danced all night.” “There’s a place for us.”
And, of course: “Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!”
That bit of musical-stage mansplaining comes courtesy of a testy medieval peasant named Dennis in “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” a show adapted (more or less) from the 1975 movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Dennis, of course, is dead wrong: King Arthur has in fact been anointed King of the Brits in the show’s comically bollixed-up take on the legend of Excalibur.
And the one who does the anointing is the Lady of the Lake — who is also the only significant female character in this bonkers farce about a bunch of a road-tripping dudes who fancy themselves brave knights.
In the new touring version of “Spamalot” that hits the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, next week, Leslie Jackson plays the Lady — a role that won a Tony Award for the San Diego-bred Sara Ramirez in the musical’s 2005 Broadway premiere.
And Jackson is proud her character gets to give Arthur a good, healthy shove — toward his goal of discovering the Grail, of course.
“She’s a strong, independent woman,” says Jackson with a laugh. “And it’s fun, too, because she’s the one who’s kind of helping guide and push Arthur a little bit.
“She’s strong and she’s kind of all over the place — but in a really fun, great way.”
Also all over the place: The musical styles Jackson has to tackle for the role.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” she says. “I feel as I go through so many different styles of singing. She changes hats so many times — it’s got everything from super-legit operatic, to a jazz-club lounge singer, to a soprano-gospel thing with ‘Find Your Grail.’
“And then in Act 2 she’s got her big kind of belt-y song about why she hasn’t been onstage for a long time.”
That would be “The Diva’s Lament,” in which the Lady has a fun little fourth-wall-breaking moment with such lyrics as: Whatever happened to my part? / It was exciting at the start. / Now we're halfway through Act 2 / And I've had nothing yet to do.
As the story proceeds, Arthur and Co. stumble across the fabled Camelot, where they come to a considered conclusion: “It’s a silly place.”
Likewise, Jackson means it in the most affectionate way possible when she says of “Spamalot”: “It’s just a silly show.”
‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’
When: 7:30 p.m. March 18-19
Where: Concert Hall, California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd.
Phone: (800) 988-4253