Riverside Center for the Performing Arts presents Camelot, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. David Lee’s book adaptation streamlines production, and director Patrick A’Hearn further restructures the show by blending story and legend. Camelot has long been associated with the Kennedy administration for a variety of reasons, and A’Hearn’s imaginative version celebrates that connection, resulting in a truly unique and interesting experience.
Blending these two very distinct worlds must have been a challenging project for the tech team, but fun. How do you take two vastly different sets and stories and make them share the stage in a cohesive way? Technical director Will O’Donnell, along with stage design by Frank Foster and lighting by Michael Jarett, kind of made it possible; and I’m going to leave out the details here because the surprise of it all is one of the things that makes this show so enjoyable. Costume designer Kyna Chilcot shares the challenge, mixing fashions from medieval England and 1960s America, without the result being as silly as it looks! Music director Carson Eubanks leads an orchestra offstage, and the live music continues to earn praise as one of Riverside’s biggest draws.
Camelot follows King Arthur (Christopher Sanders) as he meets his future Queen Guinevere (Quinn Vogt-Welch) and creates the famous Knights of the Round Table. These men are tired of border wars and the senseless barbarism that accompanies them. Together they use their “might for right” and fight for a better world, where honor, civility and chivalry are the ideal standard (sounds a bit like the pursuit of democracy, doesn’t it? not ?). Those keen to join the Roundtable include a young knight named Lancelot (Travis Keith-Battle), who shows extreme potential…until an infamous love triangle threatens to unravel everything.
The performances and vocals are breathtaking across the board, and I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Guinevere and Lancelot, who are both haughty and vain (Lancelot’s “C’est Moi” is a memorable number) and could benefit from some lessons in humility. Choreographer Stephanie Wood does a great job with the large ensemble, especially with “The Lusty Month of May” number. “How to Handle a Woman” is perhaps where the JFK connection is heaviest, and Sanders gives a touching performance with this number.
In the second act, a new character bursts onto the scene and upstages them all: Michael Goltry, whose portrayal of the villainous Mordred is, in my opinion, the most memorable and enjoyable performance. Not only does he have some of the best choreography from “The Seven Deadly Virtues” number, but Goltry seems to revel in his character… I can’t remember ever seeing an actor have so much Amusing on stage, and the atmosphere is contagious.
Depending on what you are looking for, Riverside Camelot can capture (and maintain) your interest in two ways: a riotous display of exceptional song and dance or a poignant piece that can foster deep discussion. Lucky theatergoers will walk away enjoying the production of both.
Duration: Two hours with a 15 minute intermission.
Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot is playing through May 8, 2022 at the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts – 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg VA. For tickets, call (540) 370-4300 or purchase in line.
Dinner and show for adults – $75 (plus tax)
Dinner-show for seniors (65+) – $70 (plus tax)
Adults Only Show – $60
Show for seniors (65+) only – $55
Children’s show (3 to 12 years old) only – $55
A $5.00 online processing fee will be added per ticket.
COVID safety: The staff wears a mask when working on the ground (meal-service part). Customers are not required to be masked in the establishment; but if customers want to wear a mask, they are welcome.