Those who stayed home missed perfection in 'Camelot'
If you didn't attend "Camelot" at the Duluth Auditorium on Sunday evening because you had to get up and go to work this morning -- you blew it. You missed the most nearly perfect show I've ever seen on the auditorium stage, and I've seen a lot of...
If you didn't attend "Camelot" at the Duluth Auditorium on Sunday evening because you had to get up and go to work this morning -- you blew it.
You missed the most nearly perfect show I've ever seen on the auditorium stage, and I've seen a lot of them.
Every aspect you can think of (save one very minor one) was not less than impeccable, and several were merely magnificent.
The score, by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, is one of the finest Broadway has produced. There are too many gorgeous songs to list them all, but they include "The Lusty Month of May," "How to Handle a Woman," "If Ever I Would Leave You" and the title song itself.
Lerner's story of idealism, the torment of illicit love, jealousy and ultimately the invincibility of hope, is timeless.
These features alone would make for a gratifying evening of theater, but the production added peerless dramatic and vocal performances and dazzling production values. As King Arthur, Bob Brown was utterly winning with his humility, his goodness and his wisdom. His soliloquy at the close of Act One when he confronts his suspicions about his queen, Guenevere, and his beloved champion, Lancelot, was heart-rending. And his resolve to rise above his craving for vengeance sent chills down my spine.
Brown's rich, strong voice gave full value to each of Arthur's familiar and well-loved songs.
Mollie Vogt-Welch was utterly enchanting as Guenevere: drop dead beautiful with a voice even more so, virtually operatic in power and range. But dramatic ability was not compromised for musical ability in casting her. She introduced Guenevere as a saucy but insecure youngster and over the course of the play had her mature into a wise queen and woman tormented by her love for one man and her powerful attraction to another.
The show's only perceptible flaw was the preposterous blond wig that had to have been forced upon Matthew Posner in the role of Lancelot. It was a constant distraction from his very able portrayal of the too-good-to-be-true knight who first repels, then attracts, Guenevere.
But when Posner sang, especially his soulful "If Ever I Would Leave You," all shortcomings, even the costumer's, could be forgiven.
The wig also was the only miscue by the costume department. The garb in this fictional, most perfect of kingdoms was sumptuous, from the knights' head-to-toe armor to the flowing scarlet robes of the royals in the jousting scene. The playbill credits Costume World Theatrical.
A touring show cannot be expected to mount the eye-popping, elaborate sets of a Broadway show, but scenic designer Michael Anania's work does not leave the audience feeling shortchanged. His set, based on a pair of castle turrets flanking the stage and employing dropped and draped fabrics of various types, impart magnificence to Arthur's court, with no small amount of cooperation and support from Brian Loesch's lighting design.
The experts tell us Americans need to get more sleep for their health and effectiveness, but there is food for the spirit in great musical theater. If you went with the first Sunday, you made the wrong choice.
Paul Brissett is a Duluth writer and amateur actor who has appeared in numerous community theater productions and has served on the board of the Duluth Playhouse.