As well as marking Alan Jay Lerner’s centenary, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s concert production of Camelot brought the musical back to the capital for the first time in thirty years.
Based on T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s musical Camelot tells the story of King Arthur and the forbidden love between his queen Guenevere and Lancelot, with their score being richly brought to life in this concert production by the London Musical Theatre Orchestra.
It has to be said that the story of King Arthur and the knights of the round table perhaps doesn’t translate well onto the stage, with the book and plot proving to be slightly weak – but goodness what a beautiful score it has. From the richness of the overture all the way through to ‘I Loved You Once in Silence’, the music and lyrics throughout Camelot is by turns romantic and playful that makes it a delightful score to listen to.
The London Musical Theatre Orchestra really make the most of every note in every song, allowing the score to be heard and appreciated but never overwhelming the performances of the extremely strong cast. In particular, hearing them play ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’ alongside Charles Rice as Lancelot is a particular treat that gained one of the warmest audience’s applauses of the evening – it was rich and emotional performance that sent chills down the spine. Meanwhile, the orchestra are also to have fun, unleashing a more playful but greatly controlled performance of ‘Take Me to the Fair’ that brings a smile to the audience’s face.
But once again in order to bring the story and characters to life, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra had assembled another excellent cast – all of whom seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. David Thaxton led the cast as King Arthur, delivering a strong and charismatic performance that showed plenty of personality while vocally delivering powerful renditions of ‘Camelot’ and ‘What Do the Simple Folk Do? alongside Savannah Stevenson’s empowered Guenevere. Stevenson’s beautifully clear vocals in ‘I Loved You in Silence’ and ‘Before I Gaze at You Again’ are two highlights of the show, bringing goosebumps to the surface, matched only by her playful but feisty (her initial reaction to Lancelot was brilliant) characterisation.
Elsewhere, Charles Rice is brilliantly pompous as Lancelot, but with a touch of vulnerability that keeps him just likeable enough – and as already mentioned his rendition with the LMTO on ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’ is beautiful and spine tinglingly good to listen. Clive Carter is also hilarious as the bumbling and comical Merlyn (and later Pellinore) – a performance that was a delight to watch.
But as mentioned earlier, the plot and book seem slightly weak – despite some clever lines that bring a smile to the face, it feels though it doesn’t quite know whether it wants to be taken seriously or not. It is filled with plenty of silliness but contrasts this with moments of trying to take itself too seriously that sits slightly at odds with the show as a whole.
Overall, Camelot’s strength lies in its beautifully romantic and playful music and lyrics that the London Musical Theatre Orchestra has perfectly brought to life. The evening once again proved the orchestra’s skill in uncovering a hidden gem of a score and reawakening the public’s interest in it.
By Emma Clarendon