December 12, 2014


December 9, 2014
Providence Performing Arts Center
National Tour

The 2014/2015 National Tour of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot is playing at the Providence Performing Arts Center this week through December 14. Reimagined by director Michael McFadden, the production is promoted as “the story as you’ve never seen it before…” The original production opened on Broadway in 1960, starring a young Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet, and ran for 875 performances. 

Fortunately, I’m familiar with this musical because I was in a high school production of Camelot… a few years back. I can recall feeling devastated when I heard that Camelot was our spring musical and my final show, since it was my senior year of high school. After performing in Grease and The Sound of Music, I thought Camelot was a stodgy and uninteresting choice, too medieval for my liking.  I did come around once rehearsals began, but I don’t think I ever really appreciated the nuance and innuendo of the story until last night when I experienced the show for the first time as a member of the audience. 

The salient strength of the touring production is its modesty… or simplicity. There is nothing gaudy or ostentatious about this performance. Very often, musicals that are set against a backdrop of fantasy and magic are portrayed extravagantly, boasting excessive special effects and loud, brash musical numbers- but not this production. This production of Camelot is more subdued and understated, reminiscent of theatre before Wicked and Spiderman. When I say that the production is modest, I’m speaking in terms of the fairly small cast, the scenic design, the orchestrations, and even the beautiful costumes. I love Lerner and Loewe’s score as well (My personal favorite is “How to Handle A Woman”, but all the songs are pretty solid!). 

As King Arthur, Adam Grabau epitomized the strength of a king and the vulnerability of the human condition, eliciting the sympathy of the audience. His character struck me as more ordinary and less royal. Mary McNulty portrayed Guenevere as an amalgamation of flirtatiousness, “convivial joys”, devotion to Arthur, and heart-wrenching angst. She had great chemistry with both leading men. The character of Lancelot lacks development, but Tim Rogan was very good, and sang beautifully. In fact, he probably gave the best vocal performance of everyone with numbers like “C’est Moi” and “If Ever I Would Leave You”. Providing comic relief were Mark Poppleton as Merlyn and King Pellinore, and Kasidy Devlin as Mordred. 

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this musical (through older and wiser eyes). Not only is the cast talented, but the creative team’s “re-imagination” of Camelot is just what this “oldie but goodie” needed to give the show new life. More information about the production, cast, and venues can be found here. Check it out at the Providence Performing Arts Center through December 14th. 

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