Today was the first day of previews for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Previews are basically when the acting company goes through the play with an audience and gets a feel for timing and where things need to be ironed out.
The very first show of the previews is the musical Camelot, which we were lucky enough to get cheap tickets for. The cast was star-studded with many veteran Stratford actors/actresses and a handful of actors/actresses who are having their debut season.
The musical is based on T.H. White’s novel “The Once and Future King” which I’ve read and enjoyed. Camelot covers the section of King Arthur’s life from the night before his wedding to Guinevere to the repercussions of her running off with Sir Lancelot.
While the acting was quite good I just wasn’t drawn into the story. The songs were rather boring – with the exception of a couple of the more exciting tunes. The majority of the songs were slower romantic songs – which typically involved one or two people. Compared with the other musicals we’ve seen at Stratford (including West Side Story, Evita, Kiss Me Kate) the choreography was much more reserved than we expected. As well several of the actors/actresses that we were excited about seeing in this play had very very small parts and only appeared on stage for a couple of minutes (specifically Bruce Dow and Lucy Peacock).
In all – the acting was superb as is expected from the Stratford Shakespeare company but the music and choreography were lacking. While I’m sure there are many people who would love this musical, it just wasn’t for us. I have great hopes for the rest of the season which I know will not disappoint.
Next weekend is “The Grapes of Wrath” which should be great (in a depressing kind of way).
Edit: The live animals (the hawk and the shaggy dog) used during the play were great!