"Violence is not Strength, Compassion is not Weakness."
Camelot, currently playing at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, is a show about a time in which a good King tried to change the status quo. Change the way of thinking, and create a new chivalry. "Not might is right but might for right." The result of this new thinking leads to the creation of the Round Table, and the knights of Camelot. It is a story set in a time of witches and wizards, and centers on people striving to do what is best. In our current political climate, escaping into a far away land (England) in a time long ago, leads to a lovely night at the theater.
All aspects of the production aided in a transporting night of theater. The costumes designed by Rich Hamson were particularly luscious. Many of the scenes were directed and performed with great humor. And the music of Lerner and Loewe carries you wonderfully through the story. Audience members may recognize many of the songs such as the title song "Camelot," "The Lusty Month of May," and "If Ever I Would Leave You." The songs are sure to get stuck in your head and the Original Broadway Cast Recording, with Julie Andrews and Richard Burton, is a great listen either before or after the show.
The Chanhassen's cast is also filled with many strong voices. Chanhassen favorite Keith Rice plays King Arthur. He brings both a youthful energy and an authentic sincerity to the role. Helen Anker plays Guenevere, she was last seen in the Twin Cities in the Guthrie's My Fair Lady. Her voice seems to aid itself to Lerner and Loewe musicals wonderfully, and she is a pleasure to watch on stage. Aleks Knezevish plays Lancelot with all the gusto and pomp that the role requires.
In the end the peace of Camelot falls and war breaks out after Lancelot and Guenevere, who have been hiding their feelings for each other, are discovered together. Guenevere is sentenced to death by the flame but is saved by Lancelot. This isn't the most fun story line for a feminist to watch. But in Camelot's defense, the show is from 1960 and based on even older material, and many shows from the mid 20th century have similar issues. The Chanhassen was able to turn many of the cringe worthy lines for a feminist earlier in the show into more of a joke, but the the ending could still leave some people with a sour taste in their mouth.
Overall Camelot at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres was a fun night of escapism theater, filled with high production value and a stellar cast.
Camelot will be playing until February 25.
Thank you to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater for inviting me to this performance.