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a Musical
by Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner; Music by Frederick Loewe

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 4568

SHOWING : April 10, 2014 - April 27, 2014



Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s 21st season blockbuster finale will be the wildly popular Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Camelot. King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, Lancelot, Merlyn, and the Knights of the Round Table are on their mythic quest for right and honor and justice. Along the way, they find love, broken hearts, intrigue and betrayal. Featuring many of Broadway’s most well-loved songs, including “The Lusty Month of May,” “How to Handle a Woman,” “I Loved You Once in Silence,” “If Ever I Would Leave You” and “What Do the Simple Folk Do?”

Director Robert Farley
Music Director Bill Newberry
Guenevere Jennifer Acker
Mordred Kyle Brumley
Ensemble Alana Cheshire
Ensemble Tara Chiusano
Sir Lionel Chase Crandell
Sir Sagramore Jonathan Horne
Sir Dinadan Steven L. Hudson
Merlyn/Pellinore Chris Kayser
Nimue/Ensemble Sims Lamason
Ensemble Lyndsay Ricketson
Tom of Warwick Ethan Rincon
Ensemble Olivia Sloan
Arthur Bryant Smith
Squire Dap/Ensemble Tucker Weinmann
Lancelot Jeremy Wood
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By Eight the Morning Fog Must Disappear
by playgoer
Sunday, April 20, 2014
"Camelot" has an iconic score by Frederick Loewe (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) and a somewhat problematic book (also by Alan Jay Lerner). During its original Broadway run, a couple of the musical numbers were cut to streamline the show. Georgia Ensemble Theatre has restored those numbers, as seems to be common practice, so as not to disappoint those familiar with the cast album. I have to agree with the original creators that excising "Take Me to the Fair" in particular would have a positive impact on the flow (and length) of the show.

A large part of the problem with the number in GET’s production is in Dori Garziano Leeman’s choreography. In "Take Me to the Fair," there’s some prance-like movement that seems superflous and shows the knights in a slightly ridiculous light. Other dance numbers also disappoint, with some vulgar movements in "The Lusty Month of May" and occasional sections using modern ballroom poses that seem out of place in the age of chivalry. The dancers all perform the movements well, but they are movements that do more to accompany than enhance the musical numbers.

Liz Whittemore’s costumes are also a disappointment. They have an overall cheap look to them, with metallic fabric pants and aluminum-colored tunics substituting for something more realistic. The color-coded Musketeer boot tops don’t act as much of a design statement, and the female ensemble appears in lightweight handmaiden/nymph costumes throughout. Most props are adequate, but the shiny hexagonal shields were described by one audience member as "rinky-dink."

The visual appeal of the production comes primarily from Katina Parham’s scenic design and Bryan Rosengrant’s lighting design. The set has a backdrop of castle walls, with a large castle door center. Steps lead down to the stage, then up some more steps to a raked, rounded platform stage center. Nicely shaped and painted trees flank the stage. It’s an elegant unit set that works for all scenes.

What doesn’t work scenically is the stage fog used for the "Follow Me" number, when Merlyn is tempted by Nimue (the eminently watchable and listenable Sims Lamason). It’s okay in the number itself, but the dim light and strobes used for illumination provide most of the effect. The problem comes in the next scene, when fog lingers across the stage. Since we’ve just heard in the title tune that "by eight the morning fog must disappear," this is a contradiction of the "legal laws" of the kingdom of Camelot. Sometimes less is more.

The musical accompaniment is a mixed bag. Some early numbers are percussion-heavy, and the synthesizer often sounds artificial. The harp is a nice addition, effective in some passages, and lending an elegant air to the score. It helps that the show does not start with an overture, but with a largely choral rendition of "Guenevere" that accompanies a visual representation of young Arthur wresting the sword Excalibur from a rock. When the song "Guenevere" reappears near the end of the second act, it too is highly effective, with percussion driving the intensity of the number. This and "Fie on Goodness" are the only numbers where Jason Polhemus’ sound design has any problems, muddying the sound a bit as vocal and instrumental volumes battle for dominance. Otherwise, the sound is great.

Performances are all good or better, and voices are uniformly excellent. Steve Hudson starts the show with verve and energy as Sir Dinadan. Bryant Smith nicely shows us Arthur’s youth and inexperience at the start, blending into his trademark virile maturity as the show goes on. Jennifer Alice Acker does terrific work as Guenevere, as does Kyle Brumley as Mordred, and their performances bode well for future work. Jeremy Wood has a fine voice and bearing as Lancelot, and even plays the guitar to accompany his madrigal and a portion of "If Ever I Would Leave You" at the start of the second act, but he puts on a supposed French accent that sounds more like Inigo Montoya in the movie "The Princess Bride." I would have preferred letting Tucker Weinmann use his acceptable French accent as Squire Dap, who accompanies Lancelot to Camelot, and leave it at that for an introduction to the audience that Lancelot is French. As for Chris Kayser, in the dual roles of Merlyn and Pellinore, he substitutes professionalism for engagement, using comic shtick and timing rather than investing the role of Pellinore with intrinsic comedy.

Robert J. Farley has blocked the action to use the set with pleasing variety. With only 15 in the cast, this is less a feat than would be the case with a larger cast. The dramatic ebb and flow of the show works well, and most of the comedy lands. John Evenden’s fight choreography adds a lot of excitement, and portraying the action in "The Jousts" and "Guenevere" onstage rather than à la "Ascot Gavotte" builds the excitement. GET’s "Camelot" gives the show its due, but it lacks lushness. In terms of accompaniment and costumes, we see that less is sometimes less. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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