Re-Imagined “Camelot” Comes to Kansas City

June 9, 2015
Starlight Theatre
Kansas City, Missouri

Our score: 3 out of 5 stars

Of all the “classic” Broadway musicals I’ve wanted to see, none ranked up as high on the list as “Camelot.” I don’t know if it was because my mom always played the album (she LOVED Robert Goulet) or if it was because I knew that it had been President John F. Kennedy’s favorite show. Coincidentally, Kennedy had been a classmate at Harvard with the show’s author and lyricist, Alan Jay Lerner. And while I’m not going to rave about this production, I’m glad I saw it.

The show opens with King Arthur (Adam Grabau) chatting with his friend and mentor, Merlin (Mark Poppleton). Arthur is about to wed, sight unseen, the Lady Guenevere (Mary McNulty) in an effort to bring peace to the kingdom. They meet cute and both are happy to learn that the other is quite attractive. The marriage goes well but Merlin is lured away. Five years later Arthur has decided to let more than sword fights and battles rule the kingdom. Convinced that things can be worked out with words, he invites other Knights to sit with him at his Round Table. Among those Knights is the French Lancelot Dulac. While his boastful tone upsets some, Arthur finds it refreshing. And after Lancelot bests Arthur’s three best Knights, even bringing one back from the dead after killing him, Arthur is convinced that Lancelot is his champion. Guenevere also sees something in Lancelot. Awkward!

Well presented, though if the press information is to be believed, quite scaled down for the “Game of Thrones” set, this production of “Camelot” posts three great leads and an incredible selection of music. It also features a scaled down (5-piece) orchestra (I think Munch’s Make Believe Band at Chuck E. Cheese has more members) which was sometimes very hard to her over the strong vocals. The three leads do well both in character and in song. Poppleton turns up again as King Pellinore and gives the show some much needed comic moments. In the second act we meet Mordred (Kasidy Devlin), foretold by Merlin as someone Arthur should distance himself from. Unfortunately he is more annoying than evil. If the Knights of the Round Table were the Sweathogs, Mordred would be Arnold Horshack.

This is the final stop of the current tour but if it picks up again later this year you should give it a look if you can.

“Camelot” runs at Starlight through this Sunday, June 14.


Related Content

Blu-ray Review “Camelot: 45th Anniversary Edition”

Directed by: Joshua Logan
Starring: Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Running Time: 179 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

This film was based off the classic Broadway musical and it definitely has it problems overall but still manages to entertain. The film runs a very long three hours and definitely drags in parts. The saving grace for the film was the musical numbers and the performances.  I really enjoyed the music and Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave are just stunning. You can just see the amount of production that went into this film, no expenses were spared. The Blu-ray itself is worth picking up if you are a fan of this film for sure and it is a great way to introduce the film to you if you have never seen it.

This 45th Anniversary Edition comes with a Digibook packaging, which contains a lot of great images and information. Also included is a separate CD containing four songs from the score, though I wish they would have included the full CD. The video resolution on the Blu-ray looks great with its 1080p transfer and presented in an 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The audio included is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is fantastic, especially with the film’s musical sequences.

The special features are decent at best with only two new features for this release. There is a new commentary track by Stephen Farber, which is interesting and very in-depth. There is also a new featurette called “Camelot: Falling Kingdoms”, which runs about 30 minutes and includes interviews and some interesting production information. There are also two featurettes included that were on the previously released on DVD and are only presented in standard definition. The first is called “The World Premiere of Camelot” and takes us back to to 1967 for the premiere of the film. The second is “The Story of Camelot”, which focuses on the “real” Camelot. Lastly there is four theatrical trailers included. Since this film is known for its music, it is sad that their is no Isolated Score track that was on the DVD release.

Synopsis: The oft-told tales of Arthurian legend have always been fertile ground for art. With countless books, films and songs on the subject, there have been many interpretations of Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table, the glories of the kingdom of Camelot and the doomed love triangle of King Arthur, Lady Guenevere and Sir Lancelot du Lac. The musical Camelot, however, remains the most iconic. Consider the historical context of the piece. Originated for the stage in 1960, Camelot coincided with the presidency of a young John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was a big fan of Camelot; he identified with King Arthur and, according to the First Lady, she and the President would often listen to the soundtrack before going to bed at night. Tragically, and ironically, just as Arthur’s rule lasted for one brief, shining moment, so did Kennedy’s, and the press forever linked the two legendary leaders many hundreds of years apart. Camelot is emblematic of JFK and, as such, it is emblematic of an era.

Camelot celebrates its 45th anniversary with the Blu-ray debut on April 24th !

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