The Lerner and Loewe Classic tells the story of one of the most famous love triangles ever written - that of King Arthur, his Queen Guenevere, and the Knight known as Lancelot.
This beautiful tale is usually told on a grand scale. Reference - when Park Playhouse presented Camelot in the mid-90's the Washington Park Lake House was transformed into a castle of sorts. To take such a large musical and scale it into an intimate story was truly magical. Out is the lush orchestra and in its place a roving group of musicians clad in renaissance attire. The giant musical with a soaring, aching heart becomes a play with beautiful songs to transition in the intimate space.
Don't let this description fool you - the sound is still lush and wondrous. If you want an enchanting overture or heartbreaking soliloquy call on Lerner and Loewe or Rodgers and Hammerstein, it doesn't get better than that.
The cast is led Kevin McGuire, Capital Rep's go-to leading man in one of his most transformative roles yet on the Albany stage, as King Arthur. McGuire is warm, delightful, and playful. One of McGuire's great strengths is and has always been to take the audience on a true journey all while transforming at the same time. We meet a somewhat younger and immature king and leave the theatre wishing for such a warm and loving leader. That is all thanks to McGuires great acting capabilities.
McGuire has found is match on stage in Leenya Rideout as the beautiful and somewhat tortured Guenevere. Leenya Rideout is hands down a quadruple threat - with the most amazing operatic pipes, divine dancing skills, splendid acting abilities, and the ability to play a stringed instrument like it's an extension of her arm. Ms. Rideout is beautiful and warm, I would recommend seeing her in this role if you don't want to have regrets at the end of 2016. As
Camelot is known for its famous love triangle, and tthese wo talents called for such a great third that Capital Rep called across the pond for an actor that could stay on par with McGuire and Rideout.
West End star Oliver Thornton answers the call as an absolutely perfect Lancelot. Thornton is bawdy, bold, deep, and charming. To quote a woman sitting in front of me, "WOW! Now that's a stud that can sing and act while making me blush!" Thornton's performance is very well nuanced; in the little amount of time you have to come to like Lancelot before his arch changes, he does his job. His performance is brave, stark, and extremely funny. Though the entire cast finds light moments none are funnier than Thornton's take on the song "C'est Moi". His performance is also nuanced - nothing will break your heart like his rendition of "If Ever I Would Leave You."
There are moments that are slow, no doubt. Some sayings have very different meanings or weight behind them in 2016 than they did in 1960, and even more so than they did during the Renaissance. However, there are moments that are timeless.
Early in the show Merlin the Wizard walks with King Arthur. Arthur turns to Merlin and says "Merlin why didn't you prepare me for love and marriage? To which the wizard replies, "My boy those are two different things." I guarantee at least two television shows and three movies have made that joke this year alone.
After a long election period, many recent tragedies around the world, and sadness filling our media, many would long for the Knights of the Round Table and the chivalry they stood for.
AND - With so many poor stories making it to the screen, it's a delight to the mind to enjoy the aforementioned love triangle. The love of a husband and wife, the love of best friends, and the unrequited love - it still breaks the heart and engages the mind.
The entire cast is wonderful, the set is simple and beautiful, and the staging works well to tell the story. Do yourself a favor and get your ticket before it's too late! Whether you're revisiting an old favorite or bringing someone to see if for the first time, I'd highly recommend it. Camelot runs at Capital Rep through December 24.