CAMELOT – Engeman
Book: Alan Jay Lerner
Music: Frederick Loewe
Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner
Based on: “The Once and Future King” by E.H. White
Direction: Alan Souza
Choreography: Sidney Erik Wright
Musical Director: Jon Balcourt
Sets: Todd Ivins
Lights: Joel Silver
Costumes: Michael Bottari and Ron Case
Produced by: Richard T. Dolce
Theatre: John W. Engeman Theater at Northport
Camelot is revived with remarkable frequency but Alan Souza’s current production has a rare spark of originality that makes it worth a visit, even if you’ve seen the show numerous times.
- Iris Wiener –Theatremania – 20 September 2011
Interview with Steve Parks/New York Newsday:
'CAMELOT' AND THE KENNEDY LEGACY
September 14, 2011 by STEVE PARKS
"Don't let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment that was known/As Camelot."
- From Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "Camelot"
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. His presidency's tragically abbreviated 1,000 days became known shortly after his death as Camelot.
Although the classic Lerner and Loewe musical needs no excuse for revisiting, its resurrection at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport -- and just days after the release of the Jacqueline Kennedy tapes -- seems particularly apt to director Alan Souza. The show begins previews Thursday night and opens officially Saturday night at 8.
PRESIDENTIAL FAVORITE: "Camelot" opened on Broadway Dec. 3, 1960 -- after JFK's election but before his inauguration as president. In a Life magazine interview scant weeks after her husband's assassination, the widowed first lady revealed that "Camelot" was his favorite musical, in part because his friend and Harvard classmate, Alan Jay Lerner, was its librettist. But Jackie also felt that one of Lerner's lyrics spoke to the idealism her husband's administration engendered in the postwar Baby Boom generation. She recalled that he would play the end of the recording repeatedly on the White House turntable. The musical, but particularly the title song's closing stanza, came to symbolize the idealism, romance and tragedy of Kennedy's presidency.
On the evening after the Life article appeared, the musical's national tour production came to a stop in Chicago after the line, "one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot," was sung. Lerner writes in his autobiography that audience and cast alike sobbed uncontrollably. A five-minute eternity passed before the show resumed.
NOW LEGENDARY: "To the cast of our 'Camelot,' it's as much legend as the story of King Arthur," says Souza, himself too young to recall the Kennedy years. "I told them that there are parallels between Arthur and Kennedy -- and now Obama," he said by phone during a rehearsal break in Manhattan. "The idea of justice for all and that everyone has a seat at the table is what they were about," says Souza. "Arthur and Kennedy each stood for an idealism that destroyed them." He noted that "Hope" in Barack Obama's 2008 campaign summoned an idealistic vision.
At the Engeman, Jim Stanek plays the cuckolded King Arthur, who sings the wistful but ultimately hopeful final lyric. Kim Carson plays his unfaithful Queen Guenevere and Jarid Faubel his rival Lancelot. "At the end, Arthur thinks it was all for naught," says Souza, "until he realizes that if just one person remembers, the hope remains alive."