CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is a “congenial spot” to bring “Camelot,” directed and choreographed by Kristi Curtis, alive on the stage. In the intimate theater, the classic 1960 musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe is celebrated as a tale that values forgiveness, hope and honor — and yet demonstrates the repercussions of infidelity in marriage.
Concerned about their upcoming wedding, King Arthur (Bryant Larsen) and Guenevere (Amber Michelle Jones) meet by chance in the forest where each falls in love with the other. After marrying Guenevere, King Arthur is determined to equalize the knights in his kingdom by creating a round table that promotes values of goodness and virtue throughout the land.
In the meantime, Lancelot (Austin John Smith) arrives on the scene. Joining the knights at the round table, Lancelot becomes a devoted friend of King Arthur’s — but also falls in love with the ruler’s wife. And while Guenevere dislikes Lancelot at first meeting, she eventually falls for him as well. It isn’t until King Arthur’s illegitimate son Mordred arrives that everything unravels. There is hope in Camelot after all, though, as King Arthur forgives Lancelot and Guenevere and believes that the good he has brought to his nation will live on.
Playing up the classic love triangle, Larsen and and Jones had excellent banter at the beginning of the play. Portraying an overexuberant and ambitious King Arthur, Larsen projected well to the audience and maintained clear diction throughout his complicated lines and songs, succeeding in playing an endearing and loveable character.
Similarly, Jones thrust herself into the part of Guenevere from the moment she came onstage. Her high, clear voice suited the tone of the lighthearted songs she performed, and to her credit, Jones even stayed composed during “The Lusty Month of May” — a difficult feat considering the whirlwind of choreography and the complicated melody. Her acting also realistically portrayed a devoted, yet flighty young girl, which brought laughs on several occasions from the audience.
As Lancelot, Smith also had an impressive voice to boast of, making a dramatic entrance with “C’est Moi” and the classic “If I Would Ever Leave You.” However, his relationship with Guenevere was a bit less believable, as the two rather inexplicably fall in love following a jousting tournament in which he comes out conqueror. A few looks or glances on his end toward Guenevere before the infamous scene may have cued in the audience on the love affair earlier and been appreciated. The believability of his part was also somewhat dampened by the tattoos visible on Smith’s upper arm, which could have easily been rectified with a simple change of costume.
Another distraction occurred during Chad Wilkinson’s entrance as Pellinore. Although Wilkinson played well the part of a trusted confidante of King Arthur, his dog “Horrid,” represented by a small fluffy white dog, was an odd choice for the stage. The dog also made it difficult for the audience to suspend their disbelief that they were truly in Camelot and drew their attention away from the actors during the duration of the scene.Comment on this story
Additional struggles in the play included flaws within the plot itself. In Scene 2, King Arthur’s friend, the wizard Merlyn, has his powers stolen by the enchantress Nimue. As she sings to him, Merlyn follows her to a world beneath the sea and disappears for the rest of the play, a confusing turn of events that is never fully explained. The song “How to Handle a Woman” also feels out of place among contemporary audiences, as did the villain Mordred’s tactic of using candy to enlist help from an enchantress to play a prank on King Arthur.
Full of fantasy, knights, love and drama, CenterPoint Theatre’s “Camelot” brings a much beloved tale to Centerville in a carefree and lighthearted way. Though a bit unbelievable at times, its energetic interpretation made the performance a pleasant experience.
Content advisory: The plot of “Camelot” is centered on a love affair, but no sexual content is included. Mild violence is portrayed in fight scenes.