Drury Lane Theatre. Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Frederick Loewe. Directed by Alan Souza. With Ken Clark, Christy Altomare, Travis Taylor, Jonathan Weir, Patrick Rooney. Running time: 2hrs 30mins; one intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
"It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear. The climate must be perfect all the year," King Arthur speak-sings to his bride-to-be, Guenevere, in the title number of Lerner and Loewe's 1960 musical. Drury Lane proves to be the perfect climate for a revival with its lithe and enchanting new production of the show based on Arthurian legend.
Director Alan Souza, with approval from the Lerner estate, has significantly streamlined the notoriously bloated original into a sharply focused two and a half hours, trimming excess pageantry and condensing some of the more repetitive songs (turns out Guenevere's "Take Me to the Fair" can get its point across without reiterating it three times).
Souza also cast younger than is sometimes the case. Ken Clark's absentmindedly charming young Arthur makes perfect sense as a reluctant boy king, all too dependent on his teacher Merlyn (Jonathan Weir) until he's transformed by Guenevere (a lovely Christy Altomare) and her belief in him.
Arthur sets out to make a more "civilized" Camelot, bringing together an egalitarian collection of knights who'll use their "might for right." Yet his greatest friend and champion, the unbeatable Lancelot du Lac (the stirringly powerful Travis Taylor), meets his first and only flaw in his attraction to the queen.
Thus Camelot becomes a tale of youthful idealism, as seen in Arthur's quest for justice to win over revenge and peace to reign without war, falling victim to human foibles. And on a visual level, I surely won't be the only one to detect an affinity with Game of Thrones in costume designer Maggie Hofmann's outfitting of the attractive young ensemble, along with fight choreographer John Tovar's intense swordplay.
Kevin Depinet's versatile set design is dominated by an immense and intricately gnarled tree but swiftly adapts, along with Lee Fiskness's dramatic, evocative lighting, to suggest various locations. This fresh, bracing production is surely one shining moment for Drury Lane.