Revised Camelot, Population Eight, Opens in California

News   Revised Camelot, Population Eight, Opens in California
 
The sprawling musical Camelot has been boiled to its essential drama — the love triangle of King Arthur, Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot — in director David Lee's new production that opens Jan. 15 at Pasadena Playhouse.
Camelot stars Shannon Stoeke and Shannon Warne
Camelot stars Shannon Stoeke and Shannon Warne Photo by Craig Schwartz

Shannon Stoeke is Arthur, Shannon Warne is Guenevere and Doug Carpenter is Lancelot, leading a cast of just eight performers to inhabit the Lerner & Loewe musical that, in its pre-Broadway tryout in Toronto in 1959, ran well over three hours.

This Camelot, affectionately dubbed Camelittle by wags, starting previews on Jan. 8 at Pasadena Playhouse in California.

This reconception of the usually large-cast musical is directed by Emmy Award-winning director/writer/producer Lee, co-creator of "Frasier" and director of the Ovation Award-winning production of Can-Can at Pasadena Playhouse. The authors' estates gave Lee permission to explore the material for this engagement.

The cast also features Will Bradley, Seth Daly, Zachary Ford, Richard R. Segall and Andrew Ross Wynn. Performances continue to Feb. 7.

* Based on T.H. White's "The Once and Future King," the musical about romance, sexual betrayal and budding democracy — all within King Arthur's mythical realm — is by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music). The production was a 1960 hit, and the score is well-known for such hits as "If Ever I Would Leave You," but theatre directors have long agreed that the storytelling in the musical is somewhat thick and awkward.

"David Lee…has a fresh and exciting take on the material that will give the show new vitality and a much stronger dramatic focus," stated Pasadena Playhouse artistic director Sheldon Epps. "I am very pleased that we will be collaborating on this timeless musical, which could not be more timely than at this very moment in our country's history."

Lee explained in production notes, "In the previous incarnations of Camelot there has always been an emphasis on pageantry, big sets, stunning costumes with lots of armor and ladies in pointy hats, a large chorus of singers and dancers, funny mythical characters and even a dog; much of this to stunning effect. But even though the story has large philosophical resonance, it really is a rather small tale about the relationship among three human beings — Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot. A couple of years ago, just for fun, I went through the script and eliminated everything that did not contribute directly to telling their story. What I was left with was the same beautifully written tale, but one that now seemed more direct, clearer and more emotionally accessible. Plus it was shortened enough that I could afford to add back music that is often cut."

Lee added, "The heirs to the Lerner and Loewe estates have been very gracious in allowing me to attempt this hybrid. Liza Lerner, Alan's daughter, has been of particular help to me."

Musical staging is by Mark Esposito; music direction, orchestrations and additional arrangements are by Christy Crowl.

The creative team also includes Tom Buderwitz (scenic design), Maggie Morgan (costume design), Michael Gilliam (lighting design), Vikram Kirby (sound design), Michael Donovan (casting), Jill Gold (production stage manager) and Lea Chazin (assistant stage manager).

Pasadena Playhouse is at 39 South El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, CA. For information, call (626) 356-7529 or visit www.Pasadenaplayhouse.org.

Doug Carpenter, Shannon Stoeke and Shannon Warne in <i>Camelot</i>
Doug Carpenter, Shannon Stoeke and Shannon Warne in Camelot Photo by Craig Schwartz
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