Camelot.

“Camelot” at the Vivian Beaumont Theater may attract a modern audience as it has been updated from past productions on Broadway. What was originally written by Alan Jay Lerner (he also did the lyrics as well) and music by Frederick Loewe is now modified by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men). The problem with this “Camelot” is not the acting nor the singing, it is with Sorkin trying to take a classic and making it modern.
The stories premise is the same, a young boy, Arthur (Andrew Burnap) pulls the old king’s sword out of a rock, in doing so, he becomes king. As a young man he relies on Merlyn ( an excellent Dakin Matthews who doubles as Pellinore as well) to tell him what the future brings. At 104 years old, Merlyn dies leaving Arthur to fend for himself. England has just beaten France in a war and part of the settlement is that the French King must let Arthur marry his daughter, Guenevere (Phillipa Soo).
Under the direction of Bartlett Sher, the two never mesh. We never believe that these two are in love; neither do we feel any affection towards her lover, Lancelot du Lac. Equally confusing is Arthur’s first love, Morgan Le Fey. In this rendition of the musical she is smarter than Arthur, more confident than he and like Guenevere, she is a free spirit who doesn’t need anything from anyone. In the time of “Camelot”, woman were very dependent on men and in these traditional times were not independent whatsoever.
While I thought most of the songs were very good, much of the choreography was not. “The Lusty Month of May” was just awful and so was “Fie on Goodness”. Byron Easley never took the dancing deep enough to get excited about it. The very deft sets by Michael Yeargan and Projection by 59 Productions and swift costumes by Jennifer Moeller were wasted on the dancing, direction and the story.
The real problem with “Camelot” lies in the updating of the book. I was almost waiting for King Arthur to call his Round Table Knights “Dude” ; and the same with Lancelot, I was waiting for him to be called “Bro”.
Sorkin has the language in this classic of a musical all wrong, he has Arthur speaking and acting like a buffoon; he has Arthur’s wife calling the shots and has Lancelot as the Alpha Male.
Like so many classic Broadway shows of late, writers are taking legendary shows and making them “Woke”. It is almost an apology as to how people acted back when; it is almost as if they are denying history as well. My advise is that if you want to change the classics, write a new show instead.

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