With so many one-night performances on the books at the Reif Center we find ourselves feverishly pushing forward. It’s sometimes difficult to find time to delve deeper, behind the scenes of a performance. But it is interesting to learn about why an artist makes certain choices, or how the idea behind a certain performance developed. In the case of the upcoming production of Camelot (Monday, October 20th), we are fortunate have received this note from the director, which reveals some important analysis of his interpretation. Enjoy these thoughts by Michael McFadden:
When making the decision to produce a ?classic? musical, one has the opportunity to view the material through a new lens. One can ask difficult questions ? what of this musical is still ?true?? Does the theme still resonate? Is there something there worth exploring? What can be done to make this piece speak to a modern, more-sophisticated audience?
Camelot is a product of its time period ? a study in the construction of the second-generation musical. From its inception, Camelot has been a lush and extravagant musical with a more ?fairy-tale? interpretation of a clean and friendly Middle Ages with a very 50?s stylization ? a look more suited to Kiss Me, Kate than King Arthur ? different than we are used to today, where dirt, sweat, masculinity and sensuality have found their way into the mix.
The Arthurian Legend isn?t so clean and shiny, full of betrayal and seduction and acts of evil. Try as it might, even Camelot couldn?t whitewash Arthur, even if it glosses over the fun stuff. (Guenevere on the stake gets one verse of one song!)
So how is this production ?different?? How is this Camelot not the Camelot anyone?s seen, but will give someone all the stuff of Camelot that everyone loves?
This Camelot focuses its lens on the characters, not the wide-angle of grandiosity. This production keeps its eye on the story, all decisions based on the idea ?does it enhance the storytelling?? This allows the setting to be more abstract in its environments and for the lighting to be dramatically bold. The orchestrations for this production open a palette of more delicate colors and textures beneath the singer, enhancing this timeless score while also driving the production with a dramatic percussive feel.
Looking at a Broadway classic with a modern sensibility will produce a cleaner, tighter show, one that can be viewed by fan and newcomer alike and give something to each.
And for more interesting reading, here’s a bit of trivia about Camelot:
- The original 1960 production of Camelot won four Tony Awards: Best Actor in a Musical (to Richard Burton); Best Conductor and Musical Director; Best Scenic Design (Musical); and Best Costume Design (Musical). It also won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Set Design.
- Camelot played 873 performances on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre and 518 performances in London at the Drury Lane Theatre.
- The original Broadway production starred Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, and Roddy McDowall.
- The original Broadway cast album was America?s top selling LP for 60 weeks.
- Lerner and Loewe?s script of the King Arthur story is based on T.H. White?s The Once and Future King.
- Frederick Loewe signed onto the project of writing the score for Camelot with the understanding that if the project failed, it would be his last score.
- The advance sales for the original production of Camelot were the highest in Broadway history at the time, thanks in part to the huge success of Lerner and Loewe?s most recent project, My Fair Lady.