Camelot, now onstage at Georgia Ensemble Theatre, has thrilled audiences for generations. With a film, a Live HBO broadcast, three Broadway revivals and a few U.S. tours in its history, the musical has a rich legacy in American theater.
Based on T.H. White’s famous novel The Once and Future King, the musical tells the story of King Arthur from the time that Guenevere arrives at the castle to Arthur preparing for his final battle with Mordred. Its original Broadway run, which starred Julie Andrews and Richard Burton, garnered four Tony® Awards.
The well-known story of the Arthur’s round table and Sir Lancelot’s betrayal with Guenevere is told in a quirky and light-hearted manner. The production features several well-known numbers, such as “Camelot,” “The Lusty Month of May,” “How to Handle a Woman,” and “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
Seeing Georgia Ensemble Theatre stage the large-scale musical is noteworthy, but this production is uneven with wavering accents and awkward staging. The set, while visually interesting, doesn’t complement the staging of the show with some moments where the audience only sees the top half of the actors on stage. The costumes are rather pedestrian, especially Merlin’s costume, which looks like a glorified choir robe.
As Arthur, Bryant Smith personifies the role well, but his attempts to show the boyish, timid side of Arthur, such as when he hiding in the tree and speaking to Merlin, do not work. His performance in the second act is memorable, and the closing number is moving. Jennifer Alice Acker charms as Guenevere, providing a strong equal for Smith.
In the role of Lancelot, Jeremy Wood shines, and his presence on the stage often overtakes all of the others. He captures the virile, yet romantic character and creates a captivating performance. Likewise, Chis Kayser’s notable Pellinore provides a few humorous moments. Kyle Brumley’s dastardly Mordred is fun to watch.
Under the music direction of Bill Newberry, the show excels. The band sounds fantastic, and the vocals are mesmerizing, especially those of Wood, Smith, and Acker. Wood’s performance in “If Ever I Would Leave You” stands out as one of the most moving and flawless of the production.
An enjoyable production of a classic, Camelot runs through April 27, 2014 at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center. For tickets and more information, please visit Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s website. The show’s runtime is a little over two and half hours with an intermission.
– Kenny Norton