Bringing Camelot to Broadway in 1960 was a mess. Many of those problems are still apparent today.
Alan Jay Lerner wrote a wonderful score -- some of his best work. We have lovely music. And it isn't enough to carry us though a disjointed and imperfect story. The out of town try outs ran more than four hours. You can tell the play has been cut, and it still has the feeling of a long evening where you're lifted up when the music starts and let down when it ends. Musical-tragedies bring their own challenges, and Camelot's last scene has always been a strange attempt to put a happy face on a less-than-happy ending. These are all problems from 52 years ago, and there's little a community theater production can do to solve it today.
Central Wisconsin Area Community Theater's production gets the two most important thing right. We need good singers -- and they've got 'em. And we need to feel that our three main characters - King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot - are merely star-crossed without a villain among them. This is more a story of "who can truly know where the heart will lead," and it only works if we feel empathy for all three.
Michael Ruhbush (Arthur) has a rich, warm baritone, and looks both royal and vulnerable. Helena Collins-Price (Guinevere) convinces you that men may indeed fight over her when she sings. Their voices tower over the rest of the cast, which leads to a challenge. Queen Guinevere falls for someone who isn't as good a singer as her betrothed.
Ronda Wadina, as Nimue, gets only one song but is a very good supporting actress. Karl Weyers disappears too early (literally) as Merlin, but is strong in his role.
There are additional shows Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 4pm at the Sentry Theater in Stevens Point.
By Friedman-Abeles, New York-photographer (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons