[NYC] CAMELOT (Lincoln Center): Back to the round table

Sometimes cynical, ultra-cool  critical disdain—much in evidence these days— just won’t do. I loved this show; it’s filled with wonderful songs and wonderful singers, an absorbing plot with high-minded, interesting ideas, snappy, often funny dialogue, magnificent costumes, spectacular fight scenes and it’s all elegantly set and staged.  

The Camelot that just opened at Lincoln Center is a revival of the Lerner (lyrics) and Lowe (music) with a rewritten book by Aaron Sorkin, all based on the series of novels The Once and Future King by T.H. White who based his books on the 15th century Le Morte d’Artur, which in turn was based on the ancient legends about England’s King Arthur. 

The cheeky, charming young King (Andrew Burlap) wants to create a nation built on equality and justice and civility—thus the table should be round so no one sits at its head. He believes he was divinely chosen for the crown when he pulled the sword Excalibur out of the stone after 10,000 men had tried before. As realistic, sarky Guenevere (lovely Phillipa Soo and her silvery soprano) points out, 10,000 people loosened it for him. And this establishes the tone of their marriage, brokered to ensure peace with France.   

Then French Lancelot (Jordan Donica, suitably hunky with a powerful baritone) shows up to fight for right, as much later, French Lafayette will arrive in America. Arthur’s noble mission is undermined by his son, the vicious teenager, Mordred (Taylor Trensch) whom Arthur fathered long ago with Morgan Le Fey (Marilee Talkington).  We get only a one-scene glimpse of her—a witch or an enchantress or, as she tells us, a scientist—who sees the future which sounds a lot like our present.  

The show’s famous songs—“Camelot,” “If Ever I Would Leave You”—  are a pleasure to hear again, and the less famous—“Fie on Goodness,” “The Lusty Month of May”—are full of fun. You will leave  happily humming. 

[Lincoln Center, 150 W 65th Street] Previews began March 9, 2023; opening April 13, 2023; lct.org

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