‘Camelot’ gets a fresh face; see the musical in Beaver Creek Monday
Audience members tend to be split in two camps when it comes to “Camelot”: Those who love the original, and those who find it to be, well, dated. At least that’s what actor Kasidy Devlin has found. But when it comes to Lerner & Loewe’s version of “Camelot,” Devlin calls the production “fresh.”
“(It’s) a perfect duet of modern re-telling and respect for the original,” said Devlin who plays the part of the notorious traitor, Mordred, in the classic tale about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
“What director Michael McFadden has done is focused the musical on the story,” he said. “The new orchestrations are just as lush, but percussive and driven. It a perfect balancing act, the show is both epic and intimate. The pacing is break-neck, the passions are realistic and human, and the final 20 minutes are truly thrilling.”
The show comes to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Monday evening. For those who are unfamiliar, “Camelot” features a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. It is based on the King Arthur legend adapted from the T.H. White novel “The Once and Future King.” The original 1960 Broadway production ran for 873 performances and won four Tony Awards.
Audience members will get a chance to see some powerful sword fights Monday evening, since the knights have been trained with real steel broadswords.
Devlin has been involved in the production since the idea for it was first bandied about. After wrapping up a tour of “Spamalot” that lasted three years, director McFadden and Devlin started discussing the idea of Camelot for a modern audience. Just more than a year later, rehearsals for “Camelot” started in New York City.
Devlin’s character, Mordred, appears in the second act and sets the entire show in action, he said.
“He is pure villain; the anti-Lancelot. In our adaptation of the classic musical, we treated Mordred as such. He’s charming, charismatic, funny, dangerous and driven.”
According to Devlin, McFadden has given him “generous freedom to keep the role fresh and spontaneous every night.
“(Mordred) is aware of the audience, aware of the play, and is able to cheat at the game and still win,” Devlin said. “I really savor every moment he’s on stage, but my favorites are when he’s alone with the audience. I really listen to what type of audience we have that night, talk to them, hear how they respond, make eye contact.’
A LOCAL CONNECTION
There’s something else about this particular show that makes it fresh, and . Local seventh-grader Ethan Pyke, a member of the Vail Performing Arts Academy, plays the walk-on role of Sir Tom of Warwick. He nabbed the role back in January when he auditioned for the part during the first rehearsal for “Jump, Jive & Wail,” a Vail Performing Arts Academy show taking place this weekend at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail; Pyke goes straight from “Jump Jive & Wail” into “Camelot.”
“I rehearsed a lot and really, really wanted that part,” Pyke said of Sir Tom of Warwick. “I’ve been performing since I was 7 years old. I thought this would be a cool part of my career, to take it up a notch, to the next level, and be able to perform with a Broadway cast.”
On Monday, Pyke will get to ditch school and rehearse all day with the cast of “Camelot” to prepare for the evening’s Vilar Center show.
He’s not exactly sad about skipping class in favor of rehearsals.
“Performing is just really cool and more fun than sitting at a desk writing down things,” he said.
Pyke knew “a little bit” about “Camelot,” before auditioning, he said.
“I knew basic things — like about King Arthur and that it’s about kings and knights. I didn’t know the whole story. I was talking to my grandpa about it and he said he was in ‘Camelot’ in Denver when he was younger, after he was out of college.”
As for the part of Tom of Warwick, Pyke describes him as such:
“He’s a young boy who has dreams of being a knight. There’s a war going on, and he wants to be a knight and protect his village. He thinks that’s the utmost amazing thing. When he’s walking around the castle, he bumps into King Arthur and he has a conversation with him. King Arthur gives him orders to go home and be protected.”
Pyke’s part in the play comes toward the end of Act 2, “maybe one or two scenes away from the final song. It’s pretty close to the end, but it’s still cool that I get to perform with all those Broadway people.”
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