** Somewhat Recommended ** My friend Nancy and I were looking forward to seeing the Music Theater Works production of Camelot, but ended up disappointed. To me, Camelot is a story about a mythical castle populated by knights in armor. or at least surcoats, ladies in uncomfortable looking gowns and wimples, and townspeople and villagers, too. And, most important, this mythical castle MUST have a Round Table. There was a castle of sorts on stage, but the rest was sorely lacking. I’ve seen better productions in community theater! 2 Spotlights
Camelot, a 1960 musical written in by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, ran on Broadway for over eight hundred performances. It starred Richard Burton as King Rather, Julie Andrews as Guenevere, Roddy McDowell as Mordred and Robert Goulet as Lancelot (launching his career). Before Broadway, however, Camelot was plagued with problems. The first preview in Toronto ran four and a half hours! During rewrites, Lerner was in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer and the director, Moss Hart, had his second heart attack.
As I’ve said before, directors often visualize a production before the actors are even cast. In this case, Director Brianna Borger says, “Our Camelot envisions a troupe of reveler outside of time and place, who have taken this expansive tale and distilled it into what has always lived at its core: a story of humanist ideals, hope, and love.” She goes on to say that she’s set aside ‘pomp and circumstance.” Her vision is definitely not the vision of Lerner and Loewe, so if you’re expecting a spectacular stage show, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
I overheard a lady in the audience who was very critical of the entire production. She said she’s done a better job with amateurs. She was also critical of the so-called costumes. I have to agree.
Arthur and Guenevere don crowns and cloaks to be wed, but the royal trappings disappear for the rest of the show. Guenevere does wear a long dress, but it’s a 60s flower child kind of dress, which becomes even more obvious when she puts a crown of flowers in her hair for the fair and The Lusty Month of May It’s definitely not a dress fit for a queen. Arthur has a white shirt and burgundy slim-cut pants with a black vest, Lancelot a leather-ish jacket and slim-cut jeans. Mordred wears a kilt, but the other knights are in coveralls.
This production has a cast of nine. There are no knights, no ladies, no townspeople or villagers milling about. Christine Mayland Perkins, who plays Guenevere, is the only saving grace in this show. Her songs, Before I Gaze at You Again and I loved You Once in Silence were just beautiful. I thought Michael Metcalf was way too young to play King Arthur. When he needed to show emotion, he just shouted louder – often when the scene called for a whisper.
Nathe Rowbotham, who played Lancelot, just didn’t fit the part at all, although he was pretty good in the fight scene. There were major microphone problems with his most romantic song, If Ever I would Leave You. The quiet lines at the beginning of the song were impossible to hear.
Parker Guidry, who plays Mordred, Arthur’s son, was convincing as he dripped malice around the court. Unfortunately, Mordred and Arthur looked about the same age, not like father and son. Guidry, who wore a kilt well (lol), also played a lady in Act I.
The remaining cast members may be found in multiple parts, both male and female. Sir Lionel (Tommy Thurston) has a beautiful voice. Hannah Mary Simpson and Sarah Patin play knights, Sir Dinaden and Sir Sagramore respectively. Autumn Thelander plays Dap, and Ari Magsino plays Tom.
Orchestra members are: Linda Madonia, (Director), Elena Spiegel (Violin), Dorothy Deen (Cello), Cara Strauss (Reed 1), David Orliez (Reed 2), Sarah Younker (Horn), Joseh Krzysiak (bass) and Lindsay Williams (Percussion).
Note: Guests must wear masks in the theater.
The Music Theater Works production of Camelot runs through November 13th at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Parking is free. Running time is two hours with an intermission. Performances are Wednesdays at 1:00 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets range from $39-$106 (guests 25 years of age and younger- 50% off). FYI www.musictheaterworks.com.