The plot centers about a love triangle involving good, solid King Arthur (Bradley Dean), his lovely queen Guenevere (Erin Davie), and a knight of the Round Table, Lancelot (Maxime de Toledo). Merlyn (Herman Petras) appears early in the first act and explains that he is a man who, rather than aging, experiences the reverse. Arthur queries Merlyn about the King's future bride, Guenevere. Arthur and Guenevere accidentally meet in a wooded area and are mutually interested in one another. The King has some new philosophical theories including a basic tenet that society actually be improved.
Lancelot comes to the scene from France and actor de Toledo speaks and sings with some type of accent. His dialect is intriguing, different, and really quite appealing. Lancelot is a bit full of himself, singing "C'est Moi." The first act includes the familiar title tune "Camelot," as well as recognizable "The Lusty Month of May." Musical director Michael O'Flaherty and Ruggiero wisely push the numbers up-tempo. Davie, whose voice is sweet although not large, provides a solo on "Before I Gaze at You Again." Bradley Dean's look for this show reminds me of that of youthful David Birney when he starred in the 1970s television series, "Bridget Loves Bernie."
A warm, comic elderly knight, Pellinore (Ronn Carroll) is often on stage during the second act. He provides levity which is counterbalanced by the appearance of Mordred (Adam Shonkwiler), Arthur's sinister and illegitimate son. Mordred hopes that Guenevere will burn for her love of Lancelot. It has become obvious that she has fallen for the knight. Thus, Arthur's marriage will be shattered but this King is a forgiving man.
Highlights of the second act include "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" provided by Dean and Davie and the poignant solo, "If Ever I Would Leave You," which de Toledo sings.
Ruggiero, from time to time, has actors in the house aisles and this heightens immediacy. The director cleverly stations Mordred in a balcony section just above and to the side of the stage apron. Mordred, who is evil, looms.
John Lasiter's lighting design shifts from very bright to red to more subdued hues. The changes reflect mood shifts and enhance atmosphere. Alejo Vietti's costumes are evocative and colorful. Michael Schweikardt, set designer, slides in various pieces to bring us the forest to a study; and later from a terrace in a castle to the forest to Guenevere's bedroom.
The Goodspeed stage (and proximity for viewers) is an asset since those watching feel a part of the proceedings. This is a cozy space and this particular show is endearing. Production numbers, too, are high spirited, thanks to Ralph Perkins' choreography.
Camelot continues at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut through September 19th. For ticket information, call the box office at (860) 873-8668 or visit goodspeed.org.
- Fred Sokol