The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 10, 2006

Features

Camelot features Carlisleans onstage and backstage

As Guenevere (Katherine Sandoval) prays, King Arthur (Tedford Armistead) hides in a tree to catch a glimpse of his intended. (Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)
As King Arthur would have you believe, there are certain rules at work in the kingdom of Camelot, particularly in regard to its climate. July and August cannot be too hot, for example. Winter is forbidden to arrive until December, and even then there are legal limits for snowfall. It never rains until after sundown, morning fog disappears by eight a.m., and by nine p.m. the moon is required to shine. As the king sings in the song Camelot: "In short there's simply not, a more congenial spot, for happily-ever-aftering than here in Camelot."

Although these words are sung tongue-in-cheek as Arthur woos his queen-to-be Guenevere, Camelot is indeed a world of ideals and lofty standards. This world — conveyed through beautiful and familiar music — will come to life in Carlisle as the Savoyard Light Opera Company (SLOC) presents the musical Camelot. The show opens tonight on the Corey Auditorium stage in the Carlisle School and runs for six performances over two weekends.

This classic Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical opened on Broadway in 1960, starring Richard Burton as King Arthur, Julie Andrews as Guenevere and Robert Goulet as Lancelot. Based on the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Camelot ran for 873 performances. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, Camelot came to represent the Kennedy years and the ideals of an era. In this context, its message of both loss and hope is particularly poignant.

When Corey Jackson, the director of Camelot, first interviewed for the position with the SLOC board, long-time member and Carlisle resident Philip Drew recalls that he was impressed by Jackson's vision and dedication. "Corey takes his directing very seriously. He's very conscious and conscientious about underlying themes, what's going on," says Drew. "The themes in this show are forgiveness and hopeand in these [current] times, it's something to bear in mind. There are still reasons to forgive and reasons to hope."

Jackson, who also directed The Secret Garden for SLOC in 2004 and appeared in the 2001 production of Kiss Me Kate, adds that he is striving to convey a "down-to-earth" approach, so that people today can relate to the world of Camelot. The sets — created by Brian Harris, who has designed most of the impressive SLOC sets over the years — are elegant without being ostentatious, and even King Arthur's crown is simple by design. "We're not going for a regal, pomp-and-circumstance society. Arthur is about equality, and that is evident in all aspects of the show," says Jackson.

SLOC's King Arthur is played by Carlisle resident Tedford Armistead, who also appeared as Albert Lenox in The Secret Garden and as a gangster in Kiss Me, Kate. Armistead says he grew up listening to and loving the music of Camelot and is enjoying the role of the king not only for the music, but because it offers such depth. "Camelot carries such a wonderful message. The cornerstone of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table is Arthur's idea of 'might for right,' instead of simply 'might is right,' " he says. "Strength comes with a moral obligation."

In addition to Armistead, there are a number of other actors and crew members involved in Camelot who live in Carlisle. Philip Drew (who also is the show's producer) appears as a knight of Camelot, and his daughter Evie Drew (who grew up in Carlisle) plays a lady of the court. Scott Henderson is the lighting designer, assisted by Sharon Raven, and Susie Schmidt is the costumes mistress.

Carlislean Charles Holleman plays the role of Pellinore, a character he describes as "the dotty old mentor of Arthur, a court jester who tries to provide some guidance. Most fun of all, I provide comic relief. I get the jokes."

Carlisle School eighth-grader Cameron Reid plays Tom of Warwick, the character who represents hope for the future, promising to carry on the ideals born in Arthur's Camelot. "He's a kid who has heard the stories of Camelot and comes to help out," says Reid, who performed in the Carlisle School seventh-grade play Once Upon a Mattress as the jester.

The role of Arthur's queen, Guenevere, is performed by Katherine Sandoval Taylor of Jamaica Plain and the knight, Lancelot, is Chris Charron, of Lexington, both of whom come to SLOC with impressive musical and theatrical credits. As always, SLOC boasts a remarkable full orchestra of over 20 musicians — a larger pit than most shows currently performing in Boston — under the musical direction of Fred Frabotta.

The fact that Camelot opens during election week is certainly not lost on its cast and crew. "Camelot is about creating the perfect society, so it is fitting that this is election time, when we're choosing our officials," says Jackson. "I think Camelot will inspire people to go out of this theatre to repeat the cycle, to keep trying, realizing a little good comes out of every attempt."

Drew says he is able to see many parallels in Camelot to the world climate today. "Just reading the paper in the morning is a dismaying undertaking," Drew says. "The human race has been down this path countless times before, but I remain an optimistic person about the future. Camelot embodies this."

Camelot runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., November 10 through 19, at Corey Auditorium in the Carlisle School. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and students, and $16 for children (12 and under).

For tickets, call SLOC at 1-978-371-SLOC (7562) or visit their web site at www.savoyardlightopera.org.


2006 The Carlisle Mosquito