Love muddles all in ‘Camelot’
The cast of Light Opera Works' "Camelot" rehearses for the June 1 opening. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media
Light Opera Works, Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston
2 p.m. Friday, June 1; 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3 and Wednesday, June 6; 8 p.m. Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9; and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 10
(847) 920-5360 or visit www.lightoperaworks.com
Updated: May 29, 2012 6:52PM
Love and loyalty are put to a heart-rending test when three highly principled people become embroiled in a romantic triangle in “Camelot.” Light Opera Works is staging the lush Lerner and Loewe musical, under Rudy Hogenmiller’s direction, with Nick Sandys as King Arthur, William Travis Taylor as Sir Lancelot, and Jennie Sophia as Queen Guenevere.
“It’s a much fairer balance than normally you see in this show,” Sandys said. “We are three relatively young people.” That’s a change from the usual casting of Arthur with an actor considerably older than his bride.
“The show starts with Guenevere and Arthur supposedly very young,” Sandys related. “It actually helps that side of it. You will see the sexual attraction that they have, not just that Lancelot and Guenevere have. It makes a much more complex kind of trio.”
That works well with Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics, which Sandys declared, “are all virtually about lovemaking or sex.” That led the actor to believe that the musical, which he has never seen, “really was part of its time, the early ’60s.”
The role of Arthur appeals to Sandys for a very unexpected reason. “It’s great fun for me — being an academic in another part of my life — to play somebody who’s not very bright,” Sandys said. “He’s got masses of enthusiasm. He’s looking for a direction and then he meets this woman who kind of inspires him to find a direction.”
That is the formation of the Knights of the Round Table. The growing reputation of those men lured Lancelot from France to join their ranks.
“This is my first time as a knight. It’s a great, great role,” Taylor said, noting that Lancelot “is the head of the table. At the top, he’s this selfless Christian knight who has trained and is considered to be the best and most skilled knight. Over the course of the play, he has this affair with Guenevere which kind of taints his Christianity principle.”
Still, Lancelot is a sympathetic character because of “his love for Arthur and his love for Guenevere,” Taylor asserted. “He really feels that this table that Arthur is putting together is of utmost importance. He comes all the way from France and dedicates his life to Arthur. And then he has this huge conflict when he meets Guenevere and falls in love with her.”
Sandys noted that Arthur is “a leader who tries to lead by example — by love. He falls in love, not only with Guenevere, but with Lancelot and everything he stands for and looks for a son in him. Everybody in the triangle is torn in both directions.”
That’s certainly true of Guenevere. “She’s a woman with incredible conviction,” Sophia said. “You see this passion in her and this zeal for life. She has this strong, unshakeable belief in all that her heart tells her. She’s driven by that throughout the entire show.”
On the one hand, she is loyal to Arthur and believes in his concept of creating the Round Table. “What makes her different from other queens is her involvement in this beautiful ideal,” Sophia said.
On the other hand, “She’s willing to be vulnerable. She’s willing to follow her heart,” Sophia noted. “She’s this pillar of a wife that supports and encourages her husband. But because that passion exists in her, the downfall is when Lancelot comes on the scene. The passion that he has for her also wins her heart and then she’s caught in the middle of this love triangle. She is fighting to hold fast to her ideals, to her marriage and what she has with Arthur.”
Being a good king is what Arthur values most, Sandys indicated. That’s what leads him to make a tragic decision regarding the wife he cherishes.
Sandys said he is enjoying working with his costars and also relishes the chance to sing. “The songs are terrific, fun to do and great to act.”
Taylor has never seen a production of “Camelot” but is very familiar with the music. “I’ve listened to recordings of songs from the show because they’re so beautiful,” he said. He is particularly enjoying rehearsals because, “The cast is unbelievably talented. They’re genuine people so it’s a joy to go to work.”
As for Sophia, she declared, “It will be definitely easy for me to play Guenevere and all the struggles she has to go through because I have two incredibly dynamic leading men.”