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Camelot, music by Frederick Loewe, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner at Stratford
There are many ways of telling the story of King Arthur, Knights of the Round
Table, Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot. It can be a political story of the
development of social laws in England; it can be a love story – or a story of
betrayal. It can be very sad or truly cheerful. I have seen all interpretations, and
am pleased to report that, at Stratford, it is a happy story, accompanied by music,
dance, and laughter.
In some productions King Arthur is ageing and sad, and the romance between
Guenevere and Lancelot seems unavoidable. At Stratford 2011, King Arthur,
played by Geraint Wyn Davies, is full of life, plans for the future and is more
attractive than boyish and stiff Lancelot. The age difference between Arthur and
his Queen (Kaylee Harwood) is not an issue. They are both in love and happy as
together they create a peaceful and sunny Camelot until Lancelot comes along,
with his miraculous skill, and soon after comes Mordred, knifing and vindictive
(played by Mike Nadajewski) and everything falls apart. King Arthur faces the
dilemma, to follow the law as he created and set it up or to override it and go
back to past lawless times. What a heartbreaking dilemma.
I like this interpretation: the flow of casual dialog, easy singing, great music,
fabulous costumes and great stage décor. Gary Griffin as director deserves full
credit, so does choreographer Warren Carlyle and costume designer Mara
Blumenfeld. The singing skills of the actors are great, the live orchestra
supportive, but not overwhelming. What a drama, what a story, what music!
Stratford never fails, and their collection of costumes and props must be the best
on this continent. Camelot continues at The Festival Theatre till the end of
Jesus Christ Superstar at the Avon Theatre
This is the other big hit of the season,- it's the greatest story ever told, composed
in the 60's by then a teenager Andrew Lloyd Webber with the lyrics of Tim Rice.
This is a most unusual collaboration for telling the story of Jesus crucifixion in the
format of a rock musical – and not to diminish or to disrespect the story. After all,
the story of crucifixion is the essence of Christian religion, as old as our
civilization and the Bible, repeated day by day in churches and innumerable
books. Des McAnuff took upon himself to bring it back on stage and make it a
success – and he did succeed.
This particular production puts more emphasis on the triangle of Jesus, Mary
Magdalene and Judas relationship, suggesting a jealous motive in Judas’
betrayal. Jesus, played by Paul Nolan, is very calm and somewhat resigned in
accepting his destiny, Judas (Josh Young) is more vindictive and torn. The
cameo appearance of Bruce Dow as singing King Herod is exceptional.
The music is reminiscent of the 60's era, the melodies used to be hits on the
radio, the rhythm and lines still awaken our responses. Again, the singing is
spectacular, so are special effects, some of them realistic and gruesome, like the
39 lashes or Jesus collapsing under the weight of the cross. Nevertheless, a new
generation of viewers – be it Christians or non–Christians - welcomes and is
certainly appreciative of this revived by now classic show.
Jesus Christ Superstar continues at Avon Theatre till the end of October.
More detailed information is available by calling and requesting a seasonal
brochure 1-800-567-1600 or at