Sunday, April 15, 2012



                   Left to right: Michael Travis Risner, David Ambroson and Rachelle Wood

 Performance Now's "Camelot"must be seen for its superb cast! The principal characters are cast with actors who are all superb vocalists as well as being exceptional in the art of elocution. David Ambroson is an Arthur who wears the mantle of regency with strength, compassion and just the right touch of vulnerability required for this heroic and all too human king. Rachelle Wood is a ravishing Guenevere. Matinee idol Michael Travis Risner is a dashing Launcelot. One cannot overstate the fact that all three are excellent vocalists. The singing of those glorious Lerner and Lowe songs is magnificently intoxicating. One hopes to see and hear much more from all three of these actors in upcoming musicals throughout the realm, er, region. Glamorous in the casting, the glamoury of enchantment is nearly completely missing in this vision of Camelot except for an ethereal nymph named Nimue. (Mr. Cardell has kept his directorial vision focused with laser-like precision on the romantic triangle at the heart of this show to the exclusion of the element of magic.) Merlin suffers at the hands of the wig, beard and costume department. It was a mercy to have the fairy nymph Nimue - clad in a gown with gloriously diaphanous and spellbinding wings - sweep him away after his final line. This master magician is a character one wishes to be able to see and hear. If there is only the hope of a small flame of magical flash paper to illustrate his magical essence one might wish to have left it out altogether. As Mordred, Adam Perkes communicates an insidiously brilliant command of this mediaeval chessboard. Only once did he slip over the top with an unnecessary laugh of the heinous variety overstating an otherwise brilliantly crafted character. "The Seven Deadly Virtues" was miraculously well sung by Mr. Perkes. The orchestra for this production is in the capable of hands of Lee Ann Scherlong.   Remember her outstanding work on "Titanic, the Musical?"  Here, however, the sound from the orchestra pit is sometimes a bit thin. The choral work conducted by Ms. Scherlong is outstanding as exemplified by the unity and power of the ensemble in “The Jousts,” “Guenevere” and “Fie on Goodness.” One might have wished for a bit more steam in the bedroom. It is to be assumed that Mr. Risner’s family may have been in attendance upon opening - judging from the kisses blown from the stage at curtain call - and perhaps that was keeping Launcelot as “pure as a prayer” in la chambre a coucher de Queen Guenevere. Although we know this is a family production if Lance could at least have removed his shirt we could have understood why Guenevere nearly got burned. (Sorry!)The direction of the capture and near burning of Guenevere is most impressive in the swordplay and fight choreography. This type of scene is nearly always problematic due to the jaded nature of the audience’s exposure to big screen special effects and digital editing. The color and punch injected into the proceedings by the actors playing the roles of Pellinore and Mordred cannot be exaggerated. Both actors lifted the story into the realm of true mythic adventure. The character of Pellinore is so beautifully crafted, so hilariously and correctly enacted that one can only suppose that this awesome character work will be recognized when award time roll around. Rick Williams' performance is quite simply ripped from the pages of T.H. White's “The Once and Future King.” His studied English accent is the stuff of dreams! This company has grown by leaps and bounds in many ways. The scenic elements still suffer giving us a painted mountain for "The Sound of Music" and a cartoon castle for "Camelot." Turrets flanking the stage and a few more heraldic banners hanging from the proscenium would not have been that much of an outlay. The set pieces that are used more for functionality than aesthetics - one supposes due to economic restraints - sometimes took a little longer than one might have wished to get secured. Some aspects of the script were hard to address. There is little a director can do regarding having his scripted courtiers go up and or down the hill to meet a new queen when the stage, flat as a pancake, is not raked even slightly. One must give high marks to costumer Cindy Franke for all the costumes in "Camelot" save that of Merlin. The costumes for Guenevere are all outstanding. One robe of midnight blue shimmering with silver glitter is especially eye-catching. The armour for Pellinore is hilariously perfect as well.


 Lakewood Cultural Center and Performance Now Theatre Company present Lerner and Loewe's Tony Award-winning “Camelot” at 7:30 p.m., April 13 - 29 on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $25 for adults and available by calling 303-987-7845, going online to or visiting  the Lakewood Cultural Center Box Office, 470 S. Allison Parkway (Wadsworth and Alameda). Senior, student, child and group discounts available.  Ample, free on-site parking available.

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