BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild

I'm enchanted by tales from the Middle Ages, and love any story set in the era. I discovered my love for these pre-Renaissance tales after spending 40 years researching my family tree back to medieval Europe. One branch of my genealogical heritage takes me to Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence, whose four daughters each married crowned royalty: France, England, Germany and Sicily. Marguerite, the first daughter, married the future Louis IX, King of France, better known as Saint Louis. Eleanor married Henry III, King of England. None of these queens married for love, they were political pawns in the diplomatic maneuvers among the royal powers of western Europe. They knew very little about the situations they were going to face; they had no magical sage to guide them. When Marguerite of Provence arrived in Paris to meet Louis IX, the first thing he did was give her a tour of the city, including the new cathedral under construction, Notre Dame de Paris. Louis IX told her stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; these were the most popular tales of that era. These legends forged their way into courtly protocol, exalting chivalry and unrequited baronial love for virtuous ladies. It was the highest honor to fall in love with someone you could never have; forbidden fruit was the ultimate untenable golden prize. The essence of courtly love has been immortalized. Now on stage at Downriver Actors Guild in Wyandotte is the exuberant musical Camelot. Filled with spectacular color, easy to love tunes, graceful and festive costumes, Camelot has a signature love story favored by the iconic troubadours during the Middle Ages.

Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot," the Tony Award-winning musical, is everything you could ask for in a musical, with so much more. The tunes are easy to enjoy, and endure in your memory days after watching the show. John Sartor of Canton Township stars as King Arthur; the entire show revolves around him; and he is brilliant in the role. His part requires him to be a king who is down to earth, reveal a penumbra of vulnerability, never come across as arrogant, yet at the same time display leadership qualities that compel you to want to follow him. Sartor is outright sensational portraying this character. Tall and handsome, with a gentle and compassionate face, he has perfected the art of acting and storytelling. He portrays the very human king with the theatrical skill of Stellan Skarsgård, whom he does resemble quite a bit.

In many of the scenes Sartor wears a very humble costume; and the array of exquisite outfits throughout the production are meticulously designed to tell stories in their own right.

Peter Sonnberg-Schmidt of Novi directed and choreographed the show, with Wendy Fichter of Allen Park as musical director and Cindy Nagy of Taylor as producer. The maypole dance during "The Lusty Month of May" is unforgettable and brilliantly staged. Color bursts out, along with song, creating a youthful energy celebrating spring and romance. Originally conceived as a phallic symbol in pagan fertility rituals, the maypole is a harbinger of unbridled lust yet to surface in the tale.

Emily Noble of Wyandotte stars as Guenevere; she is a radiant beauty with the voice of a lark. She wears her elegant costumes with regal grace. Her tiaras sparkle as a thousand arcs of fire under the perfectly crafted lighting of the skilled theatre technicians. Noble portrays nobility with aplomb and panache, it's as if she spent her entire childhood as a precious little princess perfecting the art of poise and elocution. Her many gowns highlight her importance in the story; as with queens of the Middle Ages, she is symbol of diplomacy among kingdoms, and is a coveted trophy by any definition.

Bryan Aue of Taylor stars as Sir Lancelot, the irresistible paramour whose arrival signals the end of innocents. Handsome and charming, he can sweep any damsel off her feet. His rendition of "If ever I would leave you" brought down the house; he was as compelling as Robert Goulet on the Broadway stage. Kellie Runkle remarked, "Emily Noble, John Sartor, and Bryan Aue bring the classic tragic love triangle to life in a way that is both beautiful and poignant."

Michael Suchyta of Dearborn shines as Mordred, the wayward love child of King Arthur. Mordred is thoroughly impish and conniving; Suchyta brings dynamite to the role with dizzying runs through the theatre and sinister hijinks.

Supporting players include Barbara Day of Belleville as Morgan Le Fey, Dee Morrison of Canton Township as Lady Sybil, Jaclyn Duvall of Dearborn as Nimue, Dylan Seets of Riverview as Thomas of Warwick and Squire Dap and Sydney Robinson of Southgate as Lady Anne. The knights include Jim Wolbrink of Detroit as Sir Lionel, Taylor residents Jay Carter and Ray Carter as Sir Clarius and Sir Sagamore, respectively, Jeff Hollon of Trenton as Sir Dinadan and Glen Reynolds of Wyandotte as Pellinore. Other ladies of Camelot include Ashley Blevins of Allen Park, Trenton residents Erin K. Schmidt and Wendy Hollon, and Ashley Gatesy of Westland. These players add a richness to the story that makes this one of the best works ever written for musical theatre.

Merlin and Pellinore add wonderful spice to the show that keep it from being too sad; watching ones wife run away with another man is really heart wrenching and full of despair. I know it would be impossible for me to bear.

Tickets are $16 for adults, with a $3 discount for students and seniors. To order, or for more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

high res photos

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta

BWW Review: CAMELOT Raises the Bar at Downriver Actors Guild
Downriver Actors Guild presents Camelot. Photo courtesy Sue Suchyta



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