Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The closing show of Lyric Stage’s season is “Camelot”, a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. It is a fresh new take on this classic musical by David Lee, a cautionary tale based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T.H. White novel “The Once and Future King.” The original Broadway show opened on December 3, 1960, ran for 873 performances and won 4 Tony Awards, and the original cast album was America’s top selling LP for 60 weeks.
This musical is associated with the Kennedy administration, which is sometimes referred to as the Camelot era. The story of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table that poignantly dramatizes the human conflict of the heart of this classic tale. The musical follows Arthur from a young, ambitious, idealistic King who dreams of creating a just society to the despairing king bearing his witness to his dream’s demise. His dream is inspired by his vivacious Queen Guinevere where might works at the service of right. The Round Table symbolizes there is no head which is just one of collaboration and unity. However it begins to unravel when the Queen and Lancelot, Arthur’s most celebrated and loyal knight, fall in love. Arthur’s evil illegitimate son, Mordred arrives on the scene, creating chaos. Director Spiro Veloudos, musical director Catherine Stornetta and choreographer Rachel Bertone recreate this musical yearning for the utopia that it can’t achieve, and at the same time create a musical that must be savored and enjoyed by one and all.
The set has a huge tree at its center with branches entwining it like serpents ready to strike its prey. The music, orchestra and vocals are superb – especially the harmony in “Before I Gaze at You Again.” Stornetta herself leads an eight piece orchestra while playing keyboards. This script does away with Merlin, Pelinore, Nimue and Morgan LeFay but Merlin is mentioned many times by Arthur. This version has 11 cast members in it and they narrate the story along the way. Although this new version is very enjoyable I found Ed Hoopman to be much too laid back as Arthur. He needs to have fire in his soul from the start of the show. He came to life three times with emphatic declarations at the end of Act 1 and 2 and with Mordred about his bad behavior. Ed’s best number is “How to Handle a Woman” when he is at his wits end on how to understand his wife. I am sure as the run progresses the forcefulness will come through. Maritza Bostic does a wonderful job as Guinevere. Her soprano voice soars in her numbers starting with “Simple Joys of Maidenhood”, “Lusty Month of May” with a dynamic dance by the Knights and Ladies, the hilarious “Take Me to the Fair” with the Knights, and the most poignant songs “Before I Gaze at You Again” and “I Loved You Once in Silence.” Maritza captures the tongue in cheek aspect of the role at the start of the show and turns more regal as it progresses.
The musical springs to life when tall, dark and handsome Jared Troilo enters as Lancelot. His majestic baritone voice wins many laughs as he delivers the comic “C’est Moi”, and many tears with the poignant “If Ever I Would Leave You” in the second act, and again when he and Maritza sing “Before I Gaze at You Again” at the end of Act 1. His high energy portrayal captivates the audience from start to finish and it is as if the role was written for him. “The Joust” scene in this show is comparable to “Ascot Gavotte” from “My Fair Lady.” The Knights are well played by Davron S. Monroe, Brad Foster Reinking and Jeff Marcus as Lionel, Dinadan and Sagamore. They display their voices in numerous chorus numbers and in “Fie on Goodness” with Mordred. They do a marvelous job in these fleshed out roles. The villain of the show is excellently played by Rory Boyd. His smarmy behavior is wonderful to behold and his song “Seven Deadly Virtues” is dripping with sarcasm as the audience laughs at his machinations. So for a new version of this classic musical with a new spin on it, be sure to catch this two hour and 15 minute version of “Camelot” at Lyric Stage.
CAMELOT (19 May to 25 June)
Lyric Stage Inc. of Boston, 140 Clarendon St, Boston, MA
1(617)585-5678 or www.lyricstage.com