FEATUREJune/July 2024

Camelot At North Coast Rep Theatre

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By Deborah Vietor

What an amazing performance, with brilliant directing for the intimate theatre at the North Coast Rep, extended to June 30! I was so impressed and entertained, I plan to see it again!

We could all use a bit of Camelot today. Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, with music by Frederick Loewe, new orchestrations by Steve Orich and expertly directed by Jeffrey B. Moss, the original production was directed and staged by Moss Hart.

Based on “The Once and Future King,” the 1958 novel by T.H. White this Tony Award-winning fairy-tale musical features songs such as “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight,” “I Loved you Once in Silence,” “What Do the Simple Folk Do?” and the title song, “Camelot.”

With an eclectic taste in theatre, Artistic Director David Ellenstein continues to inspire, aspiring to bring the highest quality of cast, orchestration, directors and a third dimension to the theatre which is enlightening. Superb performances feature Nick Apostolina, Jacob Caltrider, Jason Heil, Scott Hurst Jr., Brian Kinsky, Jered McLenigan, Lauren Weinberg and Elias Wygodny.

Innocently, a young man named Arthur is able to pull a sword from a stone to take back to his brother. This is something no one throughout the land is able to do, all inspired as it was declared that whoever can pull out the sword, will become king. Arthur is so naive, he is completely unaware of this declaration. A reluctant King and most immature, he is taught to think by Merlin the Magician, who possesses supernatural powers. Suddenly one day Merlin disappears, yet inspires King Arthur as he brilliantly grows to defend Camelot. This enchanting city in England is surrounded by forests and meadows with plenty of open space for knightly tournaments.

Arthur meets his future queen Guinevere and initially with some reluctance on her part, they are paired beautifully as he created “The Round Table” where no one will seat at the head and all knights have an opportunity to support the kingdom. Once a young man without purpose and focus, King Arthur becomes a strong and inspirational leader of the people, declaring “Might For Right.”

Sir Lancelot, hailing from France appears in all his glory, undefeated in battle and with a bit of a humor filled Machiavellian complex. Lancelot actually strikes the King, unaware of his identity on the battlefield. believing himself to be perfect in form, yet striving for spiritual perfection.

The king becomes quite taken by Lancelot, knighting him at the center the knights once he stabs one with a sword, lays hands on him and the knight magically survives.

Initially Guinevere finds his arrogance laughable, until they fall madly in love, complicating and threatening all which Camelot stands for. Camelot has been referred to as a geometry of medieval times, possessing both a round table and a love triangle, with one of the components, morality coming into question.

When Lancelot declares he fears nothing, Arthur replies: “A man who fears nothing is a man who loves nothing and if you love nothing, what joy is there in your life?”

We are initially transported to a universe one only dreams of, reflecting chivalry, courage, sacrifice, nobility, romance, and a sense of pure magic. Camelot is referenced as a story of peace, joy, love, and prosperity, once encompassed in a land of England’s dreams.

Today we all dream of a land called Camelot and this offers us not only a respite of all happening in our world, but a newfound hope for humanity.

Sadly Mordred, a notorious traitor enters the kingdom, imploring King Arthur to do what he loves best, hunting in the forest from dusk until midday. It is then he declares as King Arthur returns, he will truly know what has been happening in the kingdom.

It is at this point his scheming reaches an all time high as he gathers the knights to witness the affair between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere. Although she still loves Arthur and will not leave him, her passion is most strong for Lancelot.

King Arthur thinks about the premise of might and right, how he doesn’t think they ought to be done because you can do them, but rather because you ought to do them. He and his knights famously declared, “In the face of adversity, we must rise and fight for what is right.”

As the king returns from his evening in the forest with many reflections concerning Camelot, including his awareness of the bond between Guinevere and Lancelot, the landscape takes a dramatic change.

Arthur’s life lesson evolves into a belief in oneself, that we are all capable although sometimes unaware. He equates being closer to having G-d on your side or chosen by a higher power as adding a greater meaning to your life.

Mordred, ever the snitch points out along with the knights an affair between his adored wife and best friend. Mordred ought to be called “Morbid” for all the trouble he has caused from the beginning, demanding to be knighted and plotting to overtake the king.

“Treason!” everyone yells. Mordrid leads the way for the Queen to be burned for such crimes. Does King Arthur allow their desires to dictate his actions, or does he take a kinder, more forgiving approach? You must watch the play as all culminates into the true meaning of Camelot.

Aren’t many of our current world leaders caught in a quest for democracy and justice amidst a struggle between passion and aspiration?

“Don’t let it be forgot/ that once there was a spot/ from one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”

Camelot runs through June 30, with performances on Wed., Thurs., Sun., at 7 p.m., Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sat. and Sun. matinees at 2 p.m. An added matinee performance is held Wednesday, June 19. North Coast Rep is at 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach, and online at northcoastrep.org.

 

L'Chaim

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