|‘Camelot’ – spectacular musical at Spreckels until Oct. 28
You don’t go to see “Camelot,” now on stage at Spreckels’ main theater, to see torrid love scenes, hair-raising danger, moral fables, the Kennedy clan in the White House, a sword named Excalibur stuck in a stone, or even a Round Table. They’re all missing in this production of Lerner and Loewe’s sprawling take on the King Arthur legend.
What you will see is an eye-popping, three-story castle with windows, amazingly translated into a sinister forest, background sets with accurate perspective to swallow your eyeballs, shimmering rear projections and a lighting design with accurate application to emphasize every scene.
Give credit to Paul Gilger, Eddy Hansen, Daniel Mitchell, Elizabeth Bazzano, Amber Crawford and the dozen or so prop and set builders for framing the action so deliciously. Give Pamela Enz a bouquet of flowers for costume design and save one for Mary Jo Hamilton, production manager. I don’t think Director Gene Abravaya has ever had such a large collection of awesome talents helping him out. It paid off.
And a swirl of the medieval cape to pianist Janis Wilson, who led the pit band of 12 musicians, heard but not seen, from deep in the pit in front of the stage.
“Camelot” is one of those musical dramas having the production values and music provide a greater impact than the actual performers. When the curtain goes up you’re busy admiring the set, lighting and sound design. The human characters tend to dwindle amid their surroundings.
But Paul Huberty as King Arthur, Anthony Guzman as Lancelot and most of all, Heather Buck as Guenevere, do a commendable job in pulling the action along. They have scene-stealers such as Norman A. Hall playing King Pellinore as Arthur’s stalwart friend, Zack Howard as evil Mordred and Dan Monez as Merlin, the magician, deftly zinging the secondary roles.
You expect extravagant costumes for the three leads, but they’re modestly attired, of average height with some of the various lords towering over them. So much for visual royal dominance!
A singing and dancing Greek Chorus, ranging from a fifth-grade song star to a plump matron, plus male choristers, back the royal crew. Their routines with precision harmonies bespoke much rehearsal time.
You can blame Alan Jay Lerner for the rather pallid story line. “My Fair Lady” it ain’t. It was made into a movie with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave in 1967. But it got weak reviews and is now relegated to late night cable TV or revived nationwide in community theaters like Spreckels.
“Camelot” can be classified as a delightful package of spectacular scenery, lighting design, good sound work and pleasant music (“If ever I would leave you” is the only familiar song). Stripped down to bare essentials, it’s a love triangle with spooky side trips, swordplay along with bouncy dance and musical interludes all working to punctuate the story line.
It runs on the main stage at Spreckels through a Sunday matinee Oct. 28. Call the box office at 588-3400 for tickets Tuesday through Saturday afternoons or one hour before curtain times – 8 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sundays.