REVIEW

Carmen Harris and Randy Leslie as Guenevere and King Arthur in “Camelot,” presented this month by Kelowna Actors Studio.

The Kelowna Actors Studio looks as thought it broke the bank to put on its latest musical.

“Camelot – The Musical” is a lavish production with a hand-painted backdrop of a lush English countryside, opulent costumes and a full cast totalling 27 on stage, not to mention an extensive crew behind the scenes responsible for a well put-together show.

This Lerner and Loewe musical is set in medieval England with a timeless storyline of good versus evil, woven inside a love triangle involving King Arthur, his wife, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot du Lac, a Frenchman who came to England to become one of the knights of Arthur’s round table.

King Arthur, played by co-producer Randy Leslie, is portrayed as an almost naive idealist who won his crown by innocently plucking his sword Excalibur from a stone. 

He now is in pursuit of a peaceful England ruled not by the sword, but by civil law with a round table that signifies equality amongst those who sit at it.

Leslie plays an idealist hoping to be a worthy monarch, with his wife Guenevere (Carmen Harris) by his side inspiring Arthur to be a better king and his best comrade in arms Lance (Chad Abrahamson) inspiring him to be a better man.

That the two of his most trusted should betray him together must feel like a devastating blow. All three actors are strong leads in their own right. Each held their characters to the highest form of acting and did so with a strong execution of vocal talent, believable approaches to their characters, yet sometimes with a cheeky confidence.   

Lancelot introduces himself to the stage with a rousing rendition of “C’est Moi” sung with a confident flair, proving he is perfect for the round table while revealing a young pretentious and over-religious character.

Another fun song that sticks out is “The Lusty Month of May” sung by Guinevere and her maidens, a flirty flight of lyrical pleasure — “when everyone goes blissfully astray” … “when every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad” … “everyone makes divine mistakes in The Lusty Month of May."

Harris has the vocal technique reminiscent of Julie Andrews. When I closed my eyes, the similarities matched to a tee. A treat to watch on the stage.

The first act also gives us a brief scene with the nymph Nimue (Susan Skinner) in her siren call to Merlin (Jason Woodford) in “Follow Me.”

Skinner creates a tender moment as she beckons Arthur’s wise tutor and magician to follow her into eternal sleep. Before he succumbs, he hopes his warnings to the young king to think for himself were enough, but now it’s too late — he must go.

The second act brings another musical treat in the arrival Mordred (Timothy Harder) who is Arthur’s illegitimate son. He delivers a dastardly and delightful Mordred. I enjoyed his rousing solo “Fie with Goodness,” preaching villainy with verve while adding that hissable spark that livens the start of the second half.

If I am to be honest, I didn’t feel the tensions of a love triangle or truly get how Lancelot and Guinevere fell in love, but I did like the love story between Arthur and his wife.

Saying that, I liked this production very much and for the sake of seeing the many costume changes and beautifully sang songs, I will most likely attend again.

Camelot runs until June 16. Tickets can be purchased through Kelowna Tickets or by calling the box office at 250-862-2867. The Actors Studio is at 1379 Ellis St.in Kelowna with dinner starting at 6 p.m. and showtime at 7:30 p.m.

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