By Mike Hoban
Camelot – Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, Music by Frederick Loewe; Directed by Spiro Veloudos; Music Direction by, Catherine Stornetta; Choreography by Rachel Bertone; Scenic Design by Shelley Barish; Costume Design by Elisabetta Polito; Sound Design by Elizabeth Cahill; Lighting Design by Karen Perlow. Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street Boston through June 25th.
Less isn’t always more, but with The Lyric Stage Company’s lovingly trimmed production of Camelot, less is more than enough. Although I’ve been a huge fan of this musical from boyhood, it has always seemed a bit too long, so while this this version may lack some of the grandeur of a “full” staging, it more than makes up for it with some solid performances by its leads and strong cast of supporting players.
Director Spiros Veloudos (back at work in fine form after having his leg amputated below the knee last winter) takes David Lee’s adaptation and Steve Orich’s new orchestrations, loses the magical characters and storylines of Merlin and Morgan le Fay, and crafts a kind of Cliff Notes version of the book while leaving the wonderful score fully intact. Veloudos (or is it Lee?) fills the story gaps with narration by the company, which mostly works well (with the notable exception of the show’s ill-advised post-script).
What makes or breaks any version of Camelot is the love triangle that drives the story, and Ed Hoopman (King Arthur), Maritza Bostic (Queen Guenevere), and Jared Troilo (Sir Lancelot) make strong choices with their characters. Veloudos apparently makes a strong choice himself, abandoning any pretense of medieval British accents, which takes a few minutes of adjustment but doesn’t diminish the story in any way. Hoopman makes a fine King Arthur, and makes up for his limited vocal abilities with his ample charm, as he demonstrates in the opening number, “I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?” He carries himself with the kind of regal sophistication required of the role, but also displays his superb acting chops, particularly when he conveys the pain when he is betrayed by those he loves the most.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bostic in the role of Guenevere, having only seen her in more juvenile roles such as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods at the Lyric and as Alice in Wonderland in Wheelock’s Alice the Musical, but she steps assuredly into the difficult adult role, putting her own stamp on the character of the Queen, giving her a slightly edgier persona. Her singing ability has never been a question and she delivers beautifully in her duets with both Lancelot and Arthur as well as in a very funny rendition of “Take Me to the Fair”. As Lancelot, Troilo continues to make his mark as one of the stronger male musical leads in Boston, and delivers a touching and heartfelt version of Lancelot’s signature song, “If Ever I would Leave You” in his big number, while supplying some laughs as the arrogant alpha Knight in the early going.
In addition to the leads, the supporting cast is strong, with Rory Boyd’s Mordred a slimy standout, and solid performances by the knights (Lyric regular Davron S. Monroe, Jeff Marcus, Brad Foster Reinking, and Garrett Inman as young Tom). The maids (the talented trio of Margarita Damaris Martinez, Jordan Clark and Kira Troilo) don’t have much to do, script-wise, but really bolster the numbers performed by the company – one the show’s highlights – especially on “Guenevere”. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with a book and score as strong as “Camelot”, and Veloudos and his terrific cast deliver with this abridged gem. For more info, go to: www.lyricstage.com