Riverside Center for the Performing Arts presents Camelot, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. David Lee’s book adaptation streamlines the production, and Director Patrick A’Hearn further restructures the show by blending history and legend. Camelot has long been associated with the Kennedy administration for a variety of reasons, and A’Hearn’s imaginative version celebrates this bond, resulting in a truly unique and interesting experience.
Blending these two very distinct worlds must have been a challenging project for the technical team, but a fun one. How do you take two wildly different settings and stories and make them cohesively share the stage? Technical Director Will O’Donnell, along with scenic design by Frank Foster and lighting by Michael Jarett, somehow made it happen; and I’m going to leave out specifics here because the surprise of it all is one of the elements that make this show so enjoyable. Costume Designer Kyna Chilcot shares the challenge, mixing the fashions of medieval England and the American 1960s, without the result being as silly as it sounds! Music Director Carson Eubanks leads an orchestra offstage, and the live music continues to earn accolades as one of Riverside’s biggest draws.
Camelot follows King Arthur (Christopher Sanders) as he meets his future queen Guenevere (Quinn Vogt-Welch) and creates the famous Knights of the Round Table. These men are tired of border wars, and the meaningless barbarianism that comes with them. Together, they use their “might for right” and fight for a better world, where honor, civility, and chivalry are the ideal standard (sounds a bit like the pursuit of democracy, doesn’t it?). Those wishing to join the Round Table include a young knight named Lancelot (Travis Keith-Battle), who shows extreme potential…until an infamous love triangle threatens to undo the whole thing.
The performances and vocals are stunning across the board, and I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Guenevere and Lancelot, who are both haughty and vain (Lancelot’s “C’est Moi” is a memorable number) and could benefit from a few lessons in humility. Choreographer Stephanie Wood does a great job with the large ensemble, particularly with the number “The Lusty Month of May.” “How to Handle a Woman” is perhaps where the tie-in with JFK is heaviest, and Sanders gives a touching performance with this number.
In the second act, a new character bursts onto the scene and steals the spotlight from all of them: Michael Goltry, whose portrayal of the villainous Mordred is, in my opinion, the most memorable and enjoyable performance. Not only does he boast some of the best choreography in the number “The Seven Deadly Virtues,” but Goltry seems to revel in his character…I don’t remember ever seeing an actor having so much fun onstage, and the mood is infectious.
Depending on what you’re looking for, Riverside’s Camelot can grab (and keep) your interest in one of two ways: a riotous display of exceptional song-and-dance, or a poignant piece that can promote deep discussions. Lucky theatergoers will walk away appreciating the production for both.
Running Time: Two hours with one 15-minute intermission.
Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot plays through May 8, 2022, at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts – 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg VA. For tickets, call (540) 370-4300 or purchase online.
Adult Dinner & Show – $75 (plus applicable taxes)
Seniors (65+) Dinner & Show – $70 (plus applicable taxes)
Adult Show Only – $60
Seniors (65+) Show Only – $55
Children (3-12) Show Only – $55
There will be a $5.00 online processing fee added per ticket.
COVID Safety: Staff wears masks when working the floor (meal-service portion). Patrons are not required to be masked in the facility; but if patrons want to wear a mask, they are welcome to.