BWW Review: CAMELOT at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
The story of Camelot deals with the pursuit of idealism. King Arthur attempts to create a society where might does not equal right, and every individual is treated with honor and dignity, regardless of social class. I don't think it is much of a spoiler to state that his dream falls short. However, by the end of the night, Arthur comes to grips with life's imperfections. While his Camelot never lives up to the utopian society he imagines, it is still a place of hope and optimism. He counts his blessings and shows appreciation for the small favors bequeathed to him.
This lesson is extended to the Dutch Apple production itself. While, not a perfect show, it still has many positive aspects to celebrate. Benjamin Neumayer stars as King Arthur. Neumayer has a fine voice. He makes Arthur relatable to the audience, which is the correct approach. After all, Arthur earned his crown not from biological entitlement, but by simply pulling a sword from a stone. Neumayer had a few minor line flubs, but I blame opening night jitters.
Catherine Calloway plays a lovely Guenevere. She is a flawed character torn between fidelity to her husband and her forbidden love for Lancelot. Calloway's two ballads, "Before I Gaze at You Again" and "I Loved You Once in Silence" were both beautiful and haunting.
The third character in the show's lovers' triangle is Sir Lancelot. Played by Thomas Henke, I was never fully convinced that Lancelot was a substantial romantic threat nor that he reflected the knight's described physical perfection. His rendition of the classic, "If Ever I Would Leave You" was lacking the booming confidence, strength and longing that the number requires.
Matthew Blake Johnson had a ball as Mordred, the villain and literal bastard of the show. My attention was drawn to him every time he popped on stage. His sardonic number, "The Seven Deadly Virtues" added a refreshing dose of humor to a show that is, by its nature, pretty dry.
Camelot's musical score is iconic, the script leaves something to be desired. My biggest complaint is that it repeatedly ignores one of the biggest rules in storytelling...show, don't tell. Both "The Joust" and "Guenevere" are expositional songs where the chorus statically sings about thrilling events that are happening somewhere offstage. Likewise, the show's title number is used to convince Guenevere that the kingdom is some sort of beautiful, magical utopia. However, this concept is never really brought to fruition, in script or setting. These are all criticisms of show authors' Lerner and Lowe, not Dutch Apple.
Camelot is an imperfect show. It features an inconsistent script with classic songs and memorable characters. Follow Geunevere's advice and seek out the show's "simple joys", and you won't be disappointed.
Tickets to a pretty good show and a great meal can be found here.