Camelot was an instant hit when it opened on Broadway in 1960, boasting a tuneful score by Frederick Loewe set to the witty lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner. Almost 50 years later, this musical retains much of its luster, as shown by Pasadena Theatre Company's current production of the classic tale of King Arthur, Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table.
It benefits from the efforts of co-directors Chuck Dick and Beverly Van Joolen, music director Tom Jackson and the skills of 35 local performers and behind-the-scenes craftsmen and technicians.
The 18-number score is a daunting challenge well met by Jackson and his 12-piece orchestra on stage left, playing almost constantly for the nearly three-hour show.
Dick, who last played King Arthur for Pasadena Theatre Company, estimated that he has been in the role at least 200 times. By now, it would seem, the actor is almost ready to rule his own kingdom. He dominates this production as he grows from a naive young man waiting for his bride to a leader of extraordinary vision and strength.
Pasadena's production is enhanced by American Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate Liz Hester's debut as a beguiling Guinevere who moves from a reluctant young bride to queen, revealing genuine affection for her husband and later conveying her ambivalence that turns to love for Lancelot.
Hester does justice to the timeless score, delivering a delightful rendition of The Lusty Month of May before moving to a tender Before I Gaze at You Again and I Loved You Once in Silence, both with Lancelot.
Except for adapting a hard-to-decipher French accent, Vincent Van Joolen is a convincing Lancelot. He shifts from the self-righteous C'est Moi to a heartfelt If Ever I Would Leave You, the song that in 1960 transformed young Canadian unknown Robert Goulet into a matinee idol.
Rick Estberg brings warmth and humor to his portrayal of King Pellinore. Tim Grieb as Mordred - the king's evil illegitimate son - delivers a delectable Seven Deadly Virtues that is perfectly enunciated.
The role of the sorceress Nimue is well sung by Christy Stoufer and well danced by Camela Ebaugh in a dual effort interpreting the haunting song Follow Me.
Ed Wintermute returns to play Arthur's trusted friend Merlin, a role he first played to Chuck Dick's Arthur 25 years ago to create Pasadena Theatre history.
Although on opening weekend the choreography was not quite perfected, the essentials were in place with a skilled and energetic cast giving it life.
Camelot continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 30 at Kerr Center for the Arts on the Severn campus of Annapolis Area Christian School. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and students and children. Tickets may be bought online at www.instantseats.com/events/PTC or at the door (cash only).