Lissa deGuzman leads Cape Playhouse’s perfect ‘Camelot’


For more than six decades, since the Lerner and Loewe show first appeared on the Great White Way, that one word has been magic. 

It has come to mean paradise, perfection, chivalry and true love, all wrapped up in Merlin’s mysticism. 

The Cape Playhouse’s current production captures all that magic in a show that is at once reminiscent of that first long-ago staging, while embracing a simplicity and directness that places it squarely in the modern era. How has the theater managed to create a new-yet-true and modern vision of the Arthurian Paradise Lost? You might call it a little bit of show business magic.

About the production: “Camelot,” book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, based on the book “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White, book adapted by David Lee, with new orchestrations by Steve Orich. Directed and choreographed by Josh Walden.

What it’s about: The show opens on the young Arthur (Jonathan Burke), who is musing about his impending nuptials in “I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight.” His intended bride, Guinevere (Lissa deGuzman), is soon on the scene, bemoaning her fate as the victim of an arranged (if royal) wedding in “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood.” After a little case of mistaken identity is cleared up, the soon-to-be newlyweds move on to the altar, then to their places on the thrones of the earthly paradise.

From the start, there is a chemistry between the two that is palpable. They capture the simple and sweet perfection of true love — the kind of love in all our dreams. In one scene, Arthur rests his head on Guinevere’s lap as she gently kisses him on the forehead. Perfection.


But all is not to remain idyllic. Soon on the scene is Lancelot (Karl Josef Co), who pompously announces his arrival to take a seat at the round table of knights in “C’est Moi.” The queen and Lance soon fall in love, and we see all the passion and pain that is illicit love. As the passion develops, it is mixed with a little humor as Guenevere enlists the aid of the king’s knights in removing the troubling Lance from the scene. In “Take Me to the Fair,” deGuzman plays the troubled queen with an energy that is both fun and physical.

Highlights of the show: The voices of the three leads are simply magnificent — strong and resonant — with Broadway veteran deGuzman probably the standout. In an impressive display, she hits and holds any number of hard-to-reach notes. And the seven-piece orchestra (directed by Dan Pardo) does justice to Orich’s new orchestration of the classic Loewe score.

And — not to belabor the point, but — the simple perfection of the chemistry between the three leads stirs emotion throughout.

Worth noting: While we’re on the subject of simplicity, the set was the ultimate in minimalism, with a huge tree covered in hundreds of frothy blossoms being the center of attention.

Go or no go: Go for a reimagined trip down memory lane or for a look at the simple sweetness of love and romance.


One more thing: The show’s casting is refreshingly inclusive, with, for example, Antonia Vivino playing both a reveler and a young boy, Tom of Warwick.

Interesting fact: In the original 1960 Broadway production, King Arthur was played by Richard Burton, Guenevere by Julie Andrews and Lancelot by Robert Goulet.

If you go: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Aug. 19, with additional shows at 2 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; then 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21-26, with additional 2 p.m. shows Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets range from $51 to $101, with an additional $3.50 fee. Cape Playhouse, 820 Main St., Dennis, 508-385-3911.

Sue Mellen

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