BWW Review: CAMELOT: Jewels in the Crown
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, Music by Frederick Loewe; Original Production Directed and Staged by Moss Hart, based on The Once and Future King by T.H. White; Directed and Choreographed by Russell Garrett, Musical Direction by David McGrory; Scenic Designer, John Traub; Costume Designer, Rafael Jaen; Lighting Designer, Chris Brusberg; Sound Designer, Steve Dee; Stage Manager, Kevin Schlagle; Assistant Stage Manager, Leslie Sears; Fight Choreographer, Angie Jepson; Dialect Coach, Christine Hamel
Cast (in alphabetical order): Rachel Abbate, Troy Barboza, Rishi Basu, Michael J.Borges, Kevin Cirone, Shonna Cirone, Katie Clark, Benjamin Evett, Dashiell Evett, NatAlie Hall, Marc Koeck, Mark Linehan, Brittney Morello, Robert D. Murphy, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, Julian Schepis, Jacob Sherburne, Erica Spyres, Nick Sulfaro, Jackie Theoharis, Jeremy A. Towle
Celebrating idealism and mourning what might have been are the hallmarks of the 1961 Tony Award-winning musical Camelot, the story of King Arthur, his beautiful Queen Guenevere, brave Sir Lancelot, and the innovative Knights of the Round Table. Featuring an outstanding score with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe (one of their last collaborations), it evokes an era of youth, hope, and possibility that was embodied in the administration of President John F. Kennedy, whose assassination fifty years ago provides a somber backdrop to New Repertory Theatre's production at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown.
Artistic Director Jim Petosa and Managing Director Harriet Sheets have given the region a wonderful holiday gift with the revival of Camelot, especially during this period of historical reflection. Director/Choreographer Russell Garrett's measured rendition gives clarity to Lerner's book, which has often been considered murky and dense, and places great emphasis where it belongs, on the passions of the star-crossed lovers. Although there remain two or three arcs of the story that are underdeveloped or superfluous, by and large the inherent theatricality, the lush score, and the stellar cast sweep us away.
The trio of Benjamin Evett (Arthur), Erica Spyres (Guenevere), and Marc Koeck (Lancelot) individually and collectively bring tremendous talents to their portrayals of the principals. Evett's boyishness serves him well in the opening scenes where Arthur is feeling insecure about his impending marriage ("I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight"). Guenevere isn't entirely sure that she is ready for the wedding either and sings about what she will be giving up ("The Simple Joys of Maidenhood"). Upon seeing his lovely bride-to-be, Arthur is smitten with her and Evett's face expresses the joy, fear, and excitement of this new feeling. To hear Spyres' lilting, clear soprano is to know that Arthur will be powerless in its hold.