There isn’t a more congenial spot than Camelot. The climate is perfect all year. By 9 p.m. the moonlight must appear. And by 8, the morning fog must disappear. In short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for happily-ever-aftering.
That was the case during “Camelot” on stage at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis. There may have been a moment or two of overacting, but the minimal sets were so effective you were transformed to that magical land of Camelot. The costumes — from the Broadway production — thrust you into the medieval land of knights. And perfectly choreographed sword fights complete with the “chink, chink” sounds, put you in the mood for a goblet of mead and a turkey leg.
For me, the musical was even more special. I was able to take my father to the show and neither of us could hold back the tears during Lancelot’s spot-on performance of “If Ever I Would Leave You” to his secret love, Queen Guenevere. The chemistry between the two was amazing, surely helped by the fact that the actors — off-stage spouses Tony Lawson and Krista Severeid — married each other a year ago.
“If Ever I Would Leave You” may sound like a break-up song, but instead it is a love song Lancelot wrote for Guenevere, the wife of his best friend King Arthur. After singing about how he couldn’t leave her in summer, autumn, winter or spring, Lancelot declares, “No, never could I leave you at all!”
While Lancelot’s version of the love song was wonderful, it didn’t hold a candle to my father’s rendition at my March wedding, but I may be biased. The moment nonetheless was a magical one for our table.
Beef & Boards is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Broadway’s “Camelot,” based on the T.H. White Arthurian fantasy novel “The Once and Future King.” The musical tells the famous tale of King Arthur, his Queen, Merlyn the magician, the gallant Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur’s idealistic vision of harmony and justice in his enchanted Camelot is destroyed by the misplaced passion, greed and jealousy of those in his kingdom. Ultimately he is forced to choose — fight or forgive.
This story was well told by the cast and director Eddie Curry via the Lerner and Loewe musical.
Beef & Boards’ take on “Camelot” couldn’t seem to decide if it wanted to tell the tragic tale of Camelot’s demise lightheartedly or seriously. The interpretation at times seemed to be too comical, especially with over-the-top King Pellinore and Merlyn, both played by Jeff Stockberger. Instead of bringing the occasional comic relief to serious subject matter, Pellinore seemed to push the bumbling fool role a little too hard as the visiting king.
Magical moments include any scene featuring the show’s villain, Danny Kingston as the evil Mordred. This supporting character was by far the strongest actor and musician in the show. The performance by Beef & Boards’ owner Douglas E. Stark as King Arthur was believable. In the opening scenes he is a spry young Arthur hiding in a tree peeking to get a glance of his soon-to-be wife. In the end he is forced to send this very same wife to be burned at the stake for treason.
The sets were simple but so suggestive that only the addition of two regal chairs transformed the small stage from a forest to the king’s chambers.
The costumes, especially those of Guenevere, were amazing. Flowing gowns, regal capes and suits of armor graced the stage. They were created by Micahel Bottari and Ronald Case for the national tour of “Camelot” starring Richard Harris and have been worn in many theatrical productions from Broadway to national tours.
The men’s costumes were nearly upstaged by the fight scenes. Indiana University assistant professor Adam Noble worked with the actors to choreograph the scenes. The trained stunt man said it was challenging to create a believable eruption of physical and emotional violence within the context of the play, but Noble and the cast easily pulled it off.
In the end, the bittersweet love story leaves the viewer thinking of the consequences of immediate gratification over honor.
Contact Abbey Doyle, 640-4805, firstname.lastname@example.org.