CAMELOT at the Shakespeare Theatre Company is Elegant, Charming, and Just Plain Entertaining.

When I heard that CAMELOT would be playing at the Shakespeare Theatre when the season was announced last year I knew that I had to see it. When I saw that it would be directed by Alan Paul, I definitely knew I had to see it. I recall his great work directing KISS ME KATE, MAN OF LA MANCHA, and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at STC. Now you can add CAMELOT to his list of great accomplishments.

I remember initially watching scenes from CAMELOT on the Ed Sullivan Show when he showcased the stars of the Original Broadway Cast, Richard Burton, Robert Goulet, Julie Andrews, and Roddy McDowall. John Cullum was also in the cast. It opened in 1960 and won four Tony Awards. The cast album went Gold in 1962.

The 1967 film of CAMELOT starred Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, and Franco Nero.

The song-writing team of Lerner and Lowe had a huge success with MY FAIR LADY (now on Broadway at Lincoln Center in a very successful revival) in 1956. CAMELOT came to fruition four years later and they based it on T.H. White's "The Once and Future King".

STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn deserves credit for bringing back this classic musical which is rarely revived to the Baltimore/Washington area. Director Paul was given the task of find a musical and as he comments in the program he decided on CAMELOT the recent presidential election and looked at the work "with fresh eyes". He added, "CAMELOT is a show that people tend to think they know well. But, usually they only know the songs, or perhaps White's book, or the general idea of the Round Table. I believe our job in this production is to treat his like a new musical that people don't know. It may be quite different than you remember. At the end of the show, when the savagery of human affairs has crushed Arthur's dream, one small ray of hope arrives (the adorable Trinity Sky Deabreu). It is a version of the future, an expression of the way that King Arthur's legacy lives on - and perhaps what that legacy could mean to all of us as well."

Paul has truly summed up the success of his CAMELOT. Many will see how different this take on CAMELOT truly is.

CAMELOT opens like the original cast of SWEENEY TODD when Todd rises from the trap door standing erect. Here, King Arthur (Ken Clark) makes his initial appearance the same way. On stage is an aluminum tree which he will climb upon. It even has stairs that reach to the top of the stage (which do not get used). Before you know it, the strains of "I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight" are being sung by Arthur. This is the first of so many wonderful melodies. Then Guenevere (Alexandra Silber) arrives and Arthur escapes up the tree. She then laments "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" since she is about to be engaged to Arthur in an arranged marriage. After their first meeting, Arthur explains the wonders of his kingdom in "Camelot". The hits keep coming when Sir Lancelot du Lac (Nick Fitzer) arrives to join the Round Table singing "C'est Moi", a self-serving number with tongue in cheek.

The ensemble then gets their chance to shine in "The Lusty Month of May" and have fun singing "The Jousts" (Maryland's stage sport). You may be reminded of the horse race scene from MY FAIR LADY.

Arthur will sing the amazing "How to Handle a Woman". The simple answer? To love her!!

These incredible numbers are all in Act I!!!

After Arthur marries Guenevere, it becomes obvious that she has her eyes on Lancelot.

Act II opens behind a black curtain which has hidden the fact that those two are engaged in a relationship with the floor full of red rose petals which will remain on the set the entire second act in which Lancelot gets the chance to sing two top numbers, "Madrigal" and the hit "If Ever I Would Leave You".

Arthur's illegitimate son Mordred arrives with every intention to take over the Kingdom. Mordred has two big numbers. The first being "The Seven Deadly Sins" and the powerful song he sings with the Knights "Fie on Goodness".

There is also the gorgeous duet that Guenevere and Arthur sing beautifully, "What Do the Simple Folk Due?" Guenevere has the gorgeous ballad, "I Love You Once in Silence."

The success of CAMELOT must rise or fail with the cast and here they are all terrific. The trio of Ken Clark (Arthur), Nick Fitzer (Lancelot) and Alexandra Silber (Guenevere) work brilliantly together and their voices are superb.

Patrick Vaill plays the villain Mordred and he brings the required energy in Act II.

Adding to the enjoyment are two mainstays of Washington theater Floyd King as "King Pellinore" and Ted Van Griethuysen as "Merlyn".

There is a superb 10-piece orchestra under the baton of Conductors James Cunningham and Brandon Adams. They produce a lush and gorgeous sound to accompany the gorgeous music.

Special mention must be made about the extravagant costumes by Ana Kuzmanic.

The clever set is by Walt Spangler, Michael Lynch did the Choreography (wish there was more), and Ken Travis did the Sound.

I also must complement the amazing lighting by Robert Wierzel.

The Theatre has mentioned that parking may be a problem due to the Stanley Cup Hockey game being held across the street on Thursday, June 7 due to the closure of F. Street.

CAMELOT EVENTS include "Reflections' on Saturday, June 16 at 5 p.m., "Brush Up" on Tuesday, June 19 at 6:15, "Happenings Happy Hour: LA TI DO CABARET, Thursday, June 21 at 6 p.m.

For tickets, call 202-547 1122 or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.

This just in. CAMELOT has been extended due to popular demand until July 7, 2018.

Next season marks the Shakespeare Theatre Company's 33rd and final season under the artistic direction of Michael Kahn. The 2019-2019 season will start with Alan Paul directing THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, followed by J.B. Priestley's AN INSPECTOR CALLS, David Ives' THE PANTIES, THE PARTNER AND THE PROFIT, RICHARD III, VANITY FAIR, and finally THE ORESTEIA directed by Kahn.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com

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