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Elden Street Players Theatre for Young Audiences Excalibur!

By • Oct 18th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Excalibur!, by Michele L. Vacca
Elden Street Players Theatre for Young Audiences
Industrial Strength Theater, Herndon, VA
Through October 31st
1:15
$7
Reviewed October 16, 2010

The beloved English legend of King Arthur is brought to life through the tale of the fabled master of Wizardry and Wit, the Magical and Mysterious Merlin the Enchanter! Raised by the noble Knight Sir Ector with his two children, Kaye and Elaine, Arthur has a happy family and is tutored by Merlin who is waiting for the right time for the boy to take his throne. But his evil Aunt, Morgan Le Fay, and her sidekick Dragonfly would use Arthur so she can rule the kingdom. When a magical sword appears stuck in a stone at the palace courtyard, it is time to test Arthur and see if he is the true King of England! Can Arthur pull the sword from the stone? Can Merlin beat the evil Morgan Le Fay in a duel of magic?

I was able to take my seven year-old niece to see Excalibur! at the Industrial Strength Theater on Saturday afternoon. I was hoping she’d be more receptive to it than she was to Sleeping Beauty back in 2007. And she was. She stayed focused on the action on stage, without being scared (although she didn’t like Dragonfly’s laugh). She said it was a funny play, and “sort of” romantic. The magic tricks were enjoyable as well, with her favorite being Merlin’s fan trick. Her favorite character was “Lady Elaine.” She also really liked being able to get all of the cast’s autographs afterwards.

From my viewpoint, I enjoyed the production. Maybe it was just our audience, but it seemed there were a few times when the characters were waiting for feedback from the audience that never came. Merlin (Jon Roberts) and Morgan (Laura Moody) got into a magic duel that had some surprising tricks done by each of them. Robert Bouwmeester was the magic consultant. Morgan’s sidekick Dragonfly’s (Rhianna Meko) grating voice as she trailed behind Morgan helped to define Morgan as the “bad guy.” The kind Sir Ector (Andy Plummer) was chosen by Merlin to raise Arthur as his own son. Sir Ector’s children Kaye (Stuart Orloft) and Elaine (Jackie Plummer) bickered convincingly, while they all practiced for the knight’s tournament. Arthur (Blake O’Brien) was innocent and supportive of his older brother Kaye, but was able to portray kingly qualities duing his lessons with Merlin.

There did appear to be a lot of times when a character, usually Merlin, would stand center stage and lecture. While he did prevent himself from getting ahead of the story, at times it was difficult to stay focused on him. This was most obvious during scene changes, which occurred without changing any of the stage lights, so it was easy to be distracted by the change.

The sword in the stone was a prominent set piece. All of the knights and ladies who tried to pull the sword from the stone were amusing, and presented small subplots as they were kidded and joshed in the background. My niece was surprised that the stone itself was actually much lighter, all of the actors successfully sold the idea that it was a real stone.

The set was built around the set for the Elden Street Players’ Murder in Green Meadows. Excalibur! director Phillip M. Archey was able to incorporate the various set elements into his show. Kathy Dunlap’s costumes were well done.

Excalibur! was a fun piece, just long enough that young audience memebrs can get an introduction to the theatre and be entertained without being spoken down to.

Cast

  • Merlin: Jon Roberts
  • Arthur: Blake O’Brien
  • Sir Ector: Andy Plummer
  • Elaine: Jackie Plummer
  • Kaye: Stuart Orloft
  • Morgan: Laura Moody
  • Dragonfly: Rhianna Meko
  • Archbishop: Ray Daniels
  • Woman, Lady: Amanda Jones
  • Knight: Chris Chapin
  • Knight: Erik Dulik
  • Lady: Catherine La Valley
  • Lady: Grace McCarthy
  • Lord: Robert Bouwmeester

Production Crew

  • TFYA Executive Producer: Mary Ann Hall
  • Producer: Richard Durkin
  • Director: Phillip M. Archey
  • Stage Manager: Hahhah R. Rohlfs
  • Costume Design: Kathy Dunlap
  • Set Construction: Marty Sullivan
  • Set Painting: Cathy Reider & Sabrina Begley
  • Properties: Lillian Colquitt & Gaye Freese
  • Magic Consultant: Robert Bouwmeester
  • Light Design: Al Fetske
  • Sound Design: Phillip M. Archey
  • Lightboard Operator: Luke O’Brien
  • Soundboard Operator: Ben Roberts
  • Run Crew: Carla O’Brien
  • Box Office: Sandy Sullivan
  • Publicity: Janet Orloff
  • Graphic Design: Virginia Kohles

Disclaimer: Elden Street Players Theatre for Young Audiences provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

One Response »

  1. I’m glad you and your niece enjoyed the show!