Review: CAMELOT at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Playing through June 30th

By: Jun. 04, 2024
Review: CAMELOT at North Coast Repertory Theatre
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North Coast Repertory Theatre invites audiences to experience ”for one brief shining moment”  King Arthur’s kingdom of “Camelot” - a place where magic and the classic music of Lerner and Lowe reign.  “Camelot” is playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre through June 30th.

As people entered the theatre I heard multiple people asking “Is this like Monty Python?” or saying to their partner “I love this musical” - such is the hit-or-miss legacy of this musical based on T.H. White’s Arthurian tales, accompanied by the lovely score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe. I find myself in the minority as someone who has seen it live more than once.

Written to span the adult life of King Arthur, the audience meets a nervous Arthur (Jered McLenigan), as the carriage bringing his future bride Guenevere (Lauren Weinberg) to the castle for their wedding approaches.  Arthur beseeches Merlin (Jason Heil) for advice on what to do but is instead warned that Merlin may not be around much longer to answer his questions.

Review: CAMELOT at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Soon enough and after a meet-cute mix-up, Arthur meets his Guenevere, and a quick song about the virtues of Camelot, they are wed.   Soon it is five years later and Arthur has an idea that brings knights worldwide to his door, including the charismatic and incredibly capable knight Lancelot (Brian Krinsky).

The show’s first act sets up the idyllic life, and lofty ideals with light-hearted banter, laughter, and lovely music.  Arthur dithers as he tries to navigate his life and decide what kind of King he wants to be, Guinevere is his smart and steady partner, and they are supported by their attending knights (Jacob Caltrider, Scott Hurst Jr., and Elias Wygodny).

Arthur, ever the idealist, declares they can build a new way of life where "not might is right, but might for right!” A world that would banish war and where a round table creates a group of chivalric equals.  Inspired to join this quest, Lancelot arrives extolling the virtues of a perfect knight, who is pure of heart, loyal, and just so happens to be himself.  

As the first act closes, the kingdom and the experiment in justice find themselves in dawning jeopardy due to a love triangle that could bring it all down.  The second act opens to a thematically darker show with a more defiant and desperate tone and has an added threat in Mordred (Nick Apostolina) who subverts all Arthurian ideals.

Review: CAMELOT at North Coast Repertory Theatre

McLenigan is endearingly idealistic and indecisive in the first act but finds that love and marriage help him mature.  In the second act, Arthur is more intelligent and less naive, with a resigned blind eye to what is happening between Guenevere and Lancelot to preserve his kingdom.

Weinberg both comedically and poignantly introduces Guenevere mourning her loss of freedom of choice or excitement in her life, and who dreams of men fighting over her or better yet, “cause a little war?” She has a lovely voice and shines as an equal partner to Arthur, with their second act duet “What do The Simple Folk Do?” showing their loving friendship, while she is fighting her love for Lancelot.

Krinsky as Lancelot brings comedic (though not unjustified) confidence, especially in his entrance “C’est moi” where he extols his virtues.  His second act opener to Guenevere “If Ever I Would Leave You” had the woman beside me sighing.

The ensemble is small but mighty, with standouts including Caltrider and Hurst, and Apostolina as a delightfully calculating Mordred.  The ensemble's harmonies on “Fie On Goodness” were especially strong.  

The live musicians led by Daniel Lincoln (piano and musical director) include Smith Kiersten (violin), Mark Margolies (reeds), and Jacob Thompson (cello) who bring this beautiful score to life.  

The scenic design by Mary Burnett is a minimalist castle and is enhanced by lovely lighting by Matthew Novotny.  Costumes by Eliza Benzoni are effective and striking (especially Guenevere’s burgundy velvet dress), with hair and wigs by Peter Herman (can we bring back bejeweled snoods please?).

Normally a more sprawling musical, this production is specifically pared down for smaller spaces by cutting some songs, and some characters to streamline the book a bit more. Directed by Jeffrey B. Moss this mostly works, though still at times feels like it is fighting for a bit more room to breathe, especially in the fight scenes.  It would have been nice to see a few women in the ensemble to feel more balanced.

With fine performances and beautiful music "Camelot" poignantly underscores the tragedy that love doesn’t always conquer all.

How To Get Tickets

“Camelot” is playing at  North Coast Repertory Theatre through June 30th. For ticket and showtime information go to www.northcoastrep.org

Photo Credit: Aaron Rumley




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