As the last of the classic Broadway musicals, Camelot wears its canonical status about as lightly as a suit of armor. The original show ran three and a half hours and was full of elaborate production numbers—a perfect entertainment for the typical theatergoer circa 1960. Since then, virtually everything has changed. It’s a new world, and although the themes of Camelot remain relevant, it takes a bold creative team to whip it into acceptable 21st-century shape. Fortunately, that’s exactly what director Michael McFadden has assembled for this excellent national-touring-company production. The length has been trimmed without losing the story’s depth, and the music has been, with permission of the Lerner and Loewe estates, rearranged to play up its percussive, dramatic aspects.
No Camelot can succeed without a vibrant, soulful core ensemble, and this one has that. Adam Grabau gives Arthur suitable gravity without sacrificing access to his interior life. Mary McNulty sings Guinevere’s role beautifully, and it’s easy to imagine both men tied up in knots over her favor. As Lancelot, Tim Rogan moves gracefully from initial awkwardness to the climactic romantic grace required by “If Ever I Would Leave You,” which remains the show’s single most memorable number. For Santa Barbara audiences, the finale offered a special hometown treat, as La Colina student Dillon Stave played the role of Tom of Warwick, a key part that caps the action. Dillon was excellent, and he wishes to thank his mom and his acting teachers, Shannon Saleh and Felicia Hall, for helping him prepare for this big moment.