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'Camelot,' in musical's 50th anniversary

Jim Stanek, Kim Carson and Jarid Faubel in

Jim Stanek, Kim Carson and Jarid Faubel in Camelot. Photo Credit: Photo by AnnMarie Snyder

Even in an enchanted kingdom, love and politics don't mix. But the clash makes for an enchanting evening of musical theater.

A half-century after its Broadway opening, "Camelot" gets a royal reprise at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport. King Arthur still doesn't get his way, but his quest remains as dreamy and ultimately tragic as ever.

As directed with reverence by Alan Souza, Jim Stanek's idealistic young king tightropes the line between fervent governance and romantic folly. We believe that he believes such pearls of wisdom as "only fools never doubt" and "compassion is not weakness." He allows us to see Arthur's vulnerability in his "How to Handle a Woman" solo. Meanwhile, Kim Carson beguiles us (not to mention the king) as Queen Guenevere, retaining our sympathy even as she betrays Arthur's love, thereby crushing his Round Table vision for a civilized kingdom. Her girlish daring is foretold in "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" and "The Lusty Month of May -- sung with a winsome joie de vivre.

Speaking of French, Jarid Faubel cuts a swaggering superhero figure as Lancelot, the interloper from France who both befriends and destroys Arthur. Faubel's accent veers from French to German (maybe his Lancelot is Alsatian) and his "If Ever I Would Leave You" -- one of theater's greatest illicit love songs -- feels a bit rushed. Jeremy Morse as young troublemaker Mordred embraces villainy with unrepentant vigor while David Benoit dispenses his characters' rough mentoring as both wizard Merlyn and ally Pellinore.

Todd Ivins' set design takes us across Camelot and inside its castle, though its utilitarian poles -- for hanging flowery garlands and jousting banners -- detract from the beautifully lit (by Joel Silver) sky above the stairstep heath. Craig Kaufman's sound effects and Vic DiMonda's fight direction contribute to crucial scenes.

Jon Balcourt's seven-piece orchestra and Sidney Erik Wright's choreography enhance the classic score, especially in the endearing king-queen duet, "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" The number sets up the teary title song reprise a few broken-heart scenes later.

 

WHAT "Camelot," the Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe musical, based on T.H. White's "The Once and Future King"

WHEN | WHERE 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 6 at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St.

INFO $60; engemantheater.com, 631-261-2900

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