Landless Theatre’s compact ‘Camelot’ comes with big voices

A well-rounded cast of 10 talented actors delights the audience and honors most of the beloved characters and well-known songs.

Camelot has become a permanent fixture in modern interpretations of the Arthurian legend. Based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from T. H. White’s 1958 novel The Once and Future King, the original production of Camelot, directed by Moss Hart with music by Lerner and Lowe, ran on Broadway for 873 performances. It won four Tony Awards, based largely on the star power and popularity of Richard Burton as Arthur, Julie Andrews as Guinevere, and a new matinee idol, Robert Goulet, as Lancelot.

Landless Theatre’s production of Camelot at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn delights the audience with a well-rounded cast of 10 talented actors, who portray their characters with integrity. Director Terri Magers brings the vision to life with this small-cast version that honors most of the beloved characters and the well-known songs.

Rob Apgar (Lancelot) and Shaina Kuhn (Guenevere) in ‘Camelot.’ Courtesy of Landless Theatre Company.

While this production uses very basic and simple costuming that remains constant throughout, I have to admit I found myself wishing for a little more. Costuming creates more than a visual effect — it establishes transformation into character. While extravagance isn’t always necessary, it would have been nice to see a little more generosity with the knights and the king and queen, particularly since the cast and set were minimal. That being said, although one might have expectations of grander costumes and palatial adornments, surprisingly, the minimalistic approach in this production works. The musical numbers were well done by everyone in the cast with appropriate humor and intent. The only drawback, in my opinion, was the lack of an ensemble for the rousing “Lusty Month of May” number, where Guinevere playfully teases the cast with hints of the naughtiness that might come with the beginning of spring.

As King Arthur, Andrew Lloyd Baughman gives his character the right amount of shyness and charm as he portrays the man who has a clear vision of a world he wants to see but eventually realizes that his ideals of chivalry and righteousness are not to be. Baughman’s rendition of “How to Handle a Woman” is poignant and tender.

Cast members Timothy King, Ben Topa, and Rob Apgar Taylor give rousing and fun performances as knights of the round table. Sam Intrater is deliciously evil as Mordred. Rob Apgar is a nicely voiced Lancelot with good physical presence.

The standout, by far, is Shaina Kuhn. Everyone, of course, probably can’t help but compare every Guinevere in existence to the “Julie Andrews standard,” which is hard to beat. However, Kuhn’s performance is flawless. Vocally, she exhibits great control and a lovely timbred voice that flies effortlessly to the high notes, from her first musical number, “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood,” to her wistful rendition of “Before I Gaze at You Again.” Her acting delivers the precise demeanor of the mischievous maiden with the sweetness that is appropriate for Guinevere.

Nods should also go to Stage Manager Amanda Williams and Music Director Andrew Lloyd Baughman for their ability to balance the recorded score with the volume of the actors. This can be a difficult achievement even in a small venue, especially when the actors are not using amplification equipment.

‘The Lusty Month of May’: The ensemble of ‘Camelot.’ Courtesy of Landless Theatre Company.

King Arthur and Camelot have been referenced by monarchs and politicians who may be hoping to align themselves with the famed myth of an idealized society. Perhaps one of the most popular of these associations comes from the era of John F. Kennedy, whose presence, for some anyway, captured the youth and vitality of a hopeful generation. In any event, we always seem to wish for a noble king where good always wins, don’t we?

Running Time: Two hours including a 15-minute intermission.

Camelot plays through September 25, 2022, in partnership with the Landless Theatre Company at the Arts Barn, 311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg, MD. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Purchase tickets ($24; $20, student  ages 15–21; $15, youth ages 14 and under) online. Online ticket sales end two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Arts Barn box office or by contacting the Arts Barn.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

COVID Safety: Given Montgomery County’s current COVID community level, masks are encouraged but not required in City of Gaithersburg facilities. Social distancing is also encouraged to the extent possible. Review the City of Gaithersburg COVID safety information here.

Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot – Small-Cast Version

CAST
Reveler #1, Mordred, Dap: Sam Intrater
Reveler #2, Dinadan: Timothy R. King
Reveler #3, Sagramore: Rob Apgar-Taylor
Reveler #4, Lionel: Ben Topa
Reveler #5, Tom (select performances): Ademide Akinsola
Reveler #5, Tom (select performances): William Warwick
Reveler #6, Arthur: Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Reveler #7, Guenevere: Shaina Kuhn
Reveler #7, Guenevere (standby): Tori Weaver
Reveler #8, Lancelot: Rob Apgar

CREW
Director: Terri Magers
Music Director: Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Stage Manager: Amanda Williams
Choreography: Terri Magers and Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Costume Assistance: Brenna St. Ours and Meaghan Whitney

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