By Jennifer Mustoe, Craig Mustoe, and Caden Mustoe
I was raised on the Broadway music from Camelot–the Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Robert Goulet one. So when I had the chance to see this show–finally!–onstage at the CenterPoint Legacy Theater, I grabbed my family and we saw it on Friday night. On the drive to the theater (from Spanish Fork–a slight hike but so worth it!) we listened to the music and I sang along with every song. It brought back a lot of memories.
CenterPoint’s production of Camelot, as usual two casts for the big Barlow stage, is just what I’d hoped it would be. Remember, I’d never seen any of the dialogue, just heard the record over and over and over. So seeing the whole show was a treat, and answered a lot of questions I’d had my whole life about what really goes on in Camelot. I’d read the names Lerner and Loewe hundreds of times as I slipped the record from its jacket. Now, I know what Alan Jay Lerner wrote (he did book and lyrics) and Frederic Loewe (music) created–the whole thing.
The story is of King Arthur (Bryant Larsen MWF), who long after he becomes king (at age 18 is when he is crowned after pulling Excalibur from an anvil on a stone) marries Guenevere (Amber Michelle Jones MWF) as part of a political move. She is young, beautiful, and completely unready to be a wife. She wants drama, flirting, a fling or two before she settles down. Arthur is scared to death to be a husband. But they learn to love one another and things go well for five years. Together they cook up a great plan to have doing Right equals Might, created the Round Table as a form of keeping the peace in a peaceful way, and be very just, legal, and good rulers in a just, legal-minded, good land. In the days of serfdom, this is a big deal. In comes Lancelot (Austin John Smith MWF) from France, filled with pride, but all the other virtues, so that makes it okay. He is so good, so handsome, and after some time, Lance and Jenny (Guinevere) fall in love and have an affair. In the meantime, the Knights of the Round Table are sick and tired of being good. Arthur’s illegitimate son, Mordred (Ryan Zaugg), a rotter if there ever is one, stirs up trouble and–spoiler alert, like a Shakespearean tragedy, Camelot has a rather bittersweet if not downright depressing end. (I cried.)
Larsen is a wonderful Arthur, filled with vigor, strength, and a wonderful vulnerability. My family and I agreed that we wished he’d not be quite so powerful when speaking, but he has a nice singing voice and he is completely darling with Jones in their scenes together. He is very kingly but a real chap, too. Jones has a beautiful clear soprano voice and prances around like the flibberty jibbet she is. She dances for the whole song of “Lusty Month of May” and sings, too. This is impressive. She’s just what you’d want for Guenevere: pretty, petite, lively, and very comfortable being flirtatious. Everyone loves her, with her infectious personality and for a long time, her devotion to Arthur and her good ideas. Smith is fabulous in Camelot, strutting around like a pious peacock, but in many tender moments he is very believable and wonderful. His first notes of “C’est Moi” are enough to make any maiden faint. He, too, interacts well with Jones and his early scenes with Larsen are very tight. Zaugg as Mordred was a little stiff at first, but once he got into his mean-spirited, self-absorbed bad guy, he is quite good–a great voice, commanding evilness, and a delightful performance.
Other characters flesh out the story: Merlyn (William Hunt-whose cool hat/crown is splendid), Pellinore (Chad Wilkinson), Morgan Le Fey (Janice Munk), Nimue (Hannah Merrill–who can really sing well), and cute little Lincoln Oaks as Tom of Warwick. Each of these and the other actors in the MWF Camelot cast are very good. The ensemble numbers are very delightful. The Knights have more strength when singing in unison than some of the solos within their songs. The dancing, though quite simple, is very effective and seems very Arthurian. Kudos to Choreographer (and Director) Kristi Curtis–she really got the vibe right with these dance numbers. Costumes by Tammis Boam are delicious. Just perfect for the time. I could go on and on about the costumes–they are really spectacular. Set by Scott Van Dyke is, as always, wonderful. CenterPoint’s sets are always just perfect for the size of the stage–with wonderful details, great moving parts, and authenticity. Lighting (David Reese) and Sound (Alyssa Evans) are great. Director Curtis takes on the gargantuan task of directing two casts and does it very well. Everyone stays in character, interacts authentically with one another well, and the flow and timing are quite good. The only thing we found distracting was the tech crew in dark pants but light tunic shirts and very modern-looking headsets. We thought if the shirts were darker (maybe dyed to an olive green?) and black hats would cover up the headsets a bit. Also–make sure everyone backstage–be silent. You never know when your mics are on.
Though there are a few very mildly racy jokes, one was cleaned up and I’m pretty sure they’d go over kids’ heads. And there are some super gnarly sword fights (Smith as Fight Captain is wonderful) that everyone seemed to enjoy. Swords clang and clank and it’s marvelous.
The songs were not the very same as the record I listened to as a child and I wasn’t sure if some were just shortened or that is an updated version. It didn’t matter–Music Director Derek Myler has his cast singing well, loud enough, enunciating, and in tune.
One thing–we wanted to see more of the cute little dog that accompanied Pelly. That dog is so cute! It barked as if it was being cued. More dog! More dog!
I thoroughly enjoyed CenterPoint’s Camelot. It is visually stunning, lots of fun, lots of action, some love story in there–everything a knight or maiden, a king or queen, or a page or scoundrel could want. It brought back so many sweet memories for me and being able to share this wonderful production with my family made it even more special. This was one of my mom’s favorite shows (which is why I knew it so well) and I hope she was with us tonight. She would love it as much as we did.
CenterPoint Legacy Theater presents Camelot by Lerner and Loewe
CenterPoint Legacy Theater, 525 North 400 West, Centerville, UT 84014
April 13-May 10, 2018 Mon-Sat 7:30 PM
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