The Alliance Theatre CamelotBy Mari Davis • Dec 10th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
The Alliance Theatre
Mountain View High School, Centreville, VA
Through December 19th
2:30 with one intermission
Reviewed December 5th, 2010
The Alliance Theater group may have bitten off more than they can chew with their production of Camelot. Director Zina Bleck and her creative team had some shining moments, but most elements of the show were very poor. This particular production gave only a rough idea of the spectacle that Camelot can truly be. It was a very ambitious move, but perhaps a little premature.
Camelot tells the legend of King Arthur and how his famous Round Table got its start. The tale tells of the betrayal of his lady love, Guenevere, and his closest friend, Lancelot, when they fall in love with one another. Mordred, Arthur’s illegitimate son, arrives on the scene to stir up contention among his knights, igniting a chain of events that leads to the downfall of Camelot’s utopia. But hope shines bright as a new generation of knights is born to raise it up again.
Bleck pooled together some good talent. Jim Mitchell (King Arthur) and Stacy Crickmer (Guenevere) deserve special mention for their vocal performances. Their voices were very strong and of good quality. Other vocalists were not up-to-par, but Ken Adams (Lancelot) and Alex Bedont (Mordred) distinguished themselves as dynamic actors through their solos. Although he never sang, Scott Olson (King Pellinore) created a very funny character and maintained impressive old-man physicality. The ensemble did not blend well vocally by any means, but their enthusiasm made them enjoyable to watch.
There was little to no purpose in any of the movement throughout the show. Blocking got actors on and off, kept the stage full, and created some visual variety, but it was very aimless and often only served to clutter up the stage. The dancing and fight choreography was very poorly executed and even less well conceptualized.
Bleck’s orchestra, directed by Jonathan Blank, was sweet, simple, and reasonably effective. The primary instrument was a keyboard supplemented by some percussion and a trumpet. A larger orchestra would have done better justice to the score, but what they had was well done.
Actors had microphones to supplement their voices, but they were often too loud or left on backstage. There was a lot of coughing and sniffling and some backstage chatter heard even once actors had gone off.
One of the more glaring errors of the show was in the costuming. For the most part, there is a willing suspension of disbelief as far as period costumes go, but some of the costumes of the women were ill-fitted and unflattering. It was nice to have some visual variety as far as costume changes, but in this case, it might have been better to have fewer costumes for the men and dedicate more resources to the women’s costumes instead.
The set for Camelot featured some very impressive set pieces and brightly-colored pennants hanging from the backdrop. It had obviously been assembled with care and attention to detail. However, the overall impression, once actors and costumes were introduced, was very cartoony.
Camelot is an ambitious project by The Alliance Theater. It could have used a bigger budget and more solid direction to put some meat on the bare bones of the production.
Camelot is a musical by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) based on the legend of King Arthur. In 1959, Alan Jay Lerner and Moss Hart decided to adapt T.H. White’s The Once and Future King as their next project. It is the first show that Lerner & Loewe collaborated on after My Fair Lady. The original 1960 production, directed by Moss Hart and orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett and Philip J. Lang, ran on Broadway for 873 performances, winning four Tony Awards and spawning several revivals, foreign productions and a 1967 film version. The advance sale for the show was the largest in Broadway history.
Just after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (a classmate of Lerner at Harvard), it became widely known that the show’s original cast recording had been favorite bedtime listening in the White House, and that Kennedy’s favorite lines were in the final number (in which Arthur knights a young boy and tells him to pass on the story of Camelot to future generations):
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot,
For one brief, shining moment
That was known as Camelot.
Since then, Camelot has been associated with the Kennedy Administration.
Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy commented that “Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere.” Nevertheless arguments about the location of the “real Camelot” have occurred since the 15th century and continue to rage today.
As we worked on this musical, it became more and more clear that “Camelot” is a state of mind and it really doesn’t matter whether or not it ever was an actual location. Everyone in the cast, staff and crew worked so very hard to bring this wonderful, uplifting vision to the stage, we created our own Camelot… everyone helping everyone else, lots of laughter, lots of positive energy and good will. I’m a big believer in the healing power of positive thinking, but it still takes a lot of hard work! If you capture the spirit of “Might for right… not might is right” you can create the marvelous magic of Camelot in your very own neighborhood. I hope you give it a try! – Zina
- King Arthur: Jim Mitchell
- Merlyn: Mario Font
- Guenevere: Stacy Crickmer
- Lancelot: Ken Adams
- King Pellinore: Scott Olson
- Mordred: Alex Bedont
- Morgan Le Fey: Meganne Johnson, Amy Treat
- Tom of Warwick: Anthony Ingargiola
- Sir Dinadan: Bran D. Johnson
- Sir Lionel: Geoff Hardy
- Sir Sagramore: Mario Font
- Nimue: Rachel Harrington
Production Staff And Crew
- Producer: Maggie Swan
- Director: Zina Bleck
- Music Director: Jonathan Blank
- Music Mentor: Charlie Manship
- Choreographer: Sarah Hardy
- Rehearsal Accompanist: Charlie Manship
- Rehearsal Stage Manager: Jeremy Heck
- Production Stage Manager: Jennifer Farmer
- Orchestra: Charlie Manship (Chair), Beth Atkins, Jessica Hiemstra, Sam King, Olin Nettles, Ian Thompson
- Costumes: Rachel Harrington (Chair), Alicia Coleman, Penny Fischer
- Set Design: Maggie Swan
- Master Carpenter: Steve Cooper
- Scenic Artist: Tina Dempsey
- Set Construction: Alex Bedont, Zina Bleck, Jessica Bogert, Ciaran Buteux, Billy Clay, Wesley Coleman, Derek Farmer, Jennifer Farmer, Kevin Farmer, Courtney Jennelle, Meganne Johnson, Brian Johnson, Pat Boswell Kallman Roy Kallman, Adam LeKang, Don LeKang, Terry Mason, Jim Mitchell, Marwan Nabulsi, Chuck Swan, Margie Wheedleton, Elaine Wilson
- Set Paint Crew: Tina Dempsey, Penny Fischer
- Lighting: Stacy King (Chair), Ciaran Buteux, Wesley Coleman, Billy Ermlick, Nick King, Marwan Nabulsi, Elaine Wilson
- Sound: Beth Atkins, Jeremy Heck, Marwan Nabulsi
Disclaimer: The Alliance Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5985.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.