The Arvada Center’s Artistic Producer and Director Rod A. Lansberry has another hit on his hands with the enchanting production of Camelot, a Lerner and Loewe musical adaptation of the T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. The nearly flawless performance of the legend of the benevolent King Arthur completely captivates the audience for almost three hours, drawing us deeply into the kingdom of Camelot “where there’s simply not a more congenial spot for happ'ly-ever-aftering.”
Unlike touring shows that are sometimes too loud, too slick and too mechanical, this local production exudes a heartfelt passion for the play, with performers portraying characters that are believable and authentic. We feel the love spark between the child-like King Arthur (David Bryant Johnson) and the lovely, carefree Guenevere (Melissa Mitchell) during their playful meeting in the forest. We roll our eyes at the cockiness of Lancelot, played by tenor Glen Seven Allen (wait till you hear his opera-quality voice); and we cringe at the despicable Mordred (Aaron M. Davidson), Arthur’s illegitimate son, the “medieval delinquent” with a perfect Scottish brogue who comes to raise havoc in Camelot and dishonor the king.
William Thomas Evans plays Merlyn, the magician mentor of Arthur, with mystery and humor in Scene I, and then returns in the role of King Pellinore, a likable, jolly but wise and faithful friend of the family. Megan Van De Hey is a convincing Morgan Le Fey, the conniving sorceress whom Mordred bribes with sweets to detain Arthur in the forest with her invisible wall. This scenario in Act II sets up the beginning of the end of Arthur’s idealized, civilized society where disputes were settled by law, not blood.
Early on, the audience becomes intimately engaged in this complex story of good and evil, love and honor, passion and politics. When the love triangle evolves between “Jenny,” Arthur and Lancelot, we feel sad and frustrated knowing there’s no good way to end it except for Lancelot to leave his lover, the Round Table and the king whom he adores, and who adores him.
Designer Brian Mallgrave has beautifully created that congenial spot of Camelot complete with Merlyn’s tree (though the castle high in the background looks a bit Moorish rather than English). Interiors include plenty of regal banners in the Great Hall and a splendid queen’s chamber. Jane Spencer’s superb lighting and Clare Henkel’s period costumes and real metal swords further enhance the swashbuckling saga.
The musical score is rich with songs you will remember like the theme song “Camelot,” the ballad “I Loved You Once in Silence,” the romantic “How To Handle a Woman,” and the beguiling “If Ever I Would Leave you.”
Camelot is a classic medieval masterpiece that engulfs you from beginning to end. Don’t miss it!
Camelot plays in the Main Stage Theater through Oct. 6 (extended). Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.. Talkback will be Friday, September 20 after the 7:30 show and Wednesday, September 25 after the 1 p.m. show. For tickets, call 720-898-7200 or visit https://arvadacenter.org.