Molly Smith, Arena's artistic director, stages the Lerner and Loewe classic about King Arthur and the seeds of democracy in a fictive, pre-civility England. The musical was lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe's followup to My Fair Lady, and was a smash hit — thanks in part to the casting of Richard Burton, some exposure on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and the track record of My Fair Lady.
Smith and her creative team have "re-envisioned the classic script to unveil the darker underpinnings inherent in this immortal story of love, desire, betrayal and justice," according to Arena production notes.
Opening night is Nov. 21. Camelot plays the in the-round Fichandler stage at Arena Stage, one of the nation's oldest not-for-profits regional theatres.
"This story is the stuff of legends," Smith said in notes. "King Arthur’s fabled struggle for peace remains a contemporary theme, particularly in Washington, DC. A good king who tries to unite his world through the diplomacy of his revolutionary 'round table' is a fascinating mirror for our audiences, who live and work in the political center of the world."
Music director George Fulginiti-Shakar's "tonally darkened orchestrations," with Kate Edmunds' set design, "underscore the rough nature of the world King Arthur is trying to civilize." Edmunds' scenic elements of "ancient hewn rock and stone are entwined and embraced in a series of roots and vines." Costume designer Paul Tazewell "incorporated leather and fur in his design to suggest a barbaric and cruel society"; headpieces from different parts of the world adorn the Knights of the Round Table.
Baayork Lee added various forms of dance "to give a world beat to a musical whose original production had minimal choreography," according to Arena.
Smith "has deliberately cast the Knights of the Round Table with actors of various ethnic backgrounds as a way to expand the metaphorical world of Camelot beyond England in this production."
Skybell appeared in Broadway's The Full Monty, Bogart is known for his work in Broadway's Miss Saigon, Suber appeared in two recent world premieres — Dracula at Stonington Opera and The Green Violin at Prince Music Theater.
The Camelot company also includes J. Fred Shiffman as Merlin/Pellinore; Christianne Tisdale as Morgan Le Fey/Nimue; Jack Ferver as Mordred; Stephen Schmidt as Sir Dinadan; Kevin Burrows as Sir Lionel; Michael L. Forrest as Sir Sagramore; Lawrence Brimmer as Sir Bliant; Vic Dimonda as Sir Castor; John Lucas as Sir Olatungi; and Jeffrey Luke as Sir Tong Wi.
Rounding out the cast are the Lords and Ladies of Camelot, including Jennifer Andersen as Lady Sybil; Parker Esse as Sir Colgrevance; Deanna Harris as Lady Catherine; Zoie Morris as Lady Anaya; and Eduardo Placer as Clarius. The ensemble includes Herald Anthony Aloise, Debra Buonaccorsi and Gabriel Veneziano. Bev Appleton portrays Squire Dap, and James Soller and Brian Thane Wilson share the role of Tom of Warwick.
Smith had an Arena hit on her hands last season with her revival of South Pacific.
Tickets range $42-$60, with discounts available for students, groups, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens.
For ticket information, call (202) 488-3300 or visit www.arenastage.org.