The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through April 26, 2015
by Michael J. Moran
To step in for the ailing star of a show on opening night must be a nerve-wracking feat, but that’s what understudies are for, and Troy Bruchwalski rose to the occasion with a finely nuanced portrayal of King Arthur in the national tour of Lerner & Loewe’s beloved masterpiece "Camelot."
Based on T. H. White’s novel The Once and Future King, "Camelot" tells the legend of 16th-century King Arthur of England and his Knights of the Round Table, who became known for settling disputes not through war but through law, and whose good deeds attracted recruits from far and wide. After the famously virtuous Sir Lancelot arrives from France, his growing love for Arthur’s Queen, Guinevere, and the treachery of Arthur’s illegitimate son Mordred tear the peaceful kingdom apart.
As Guinevere, Mary McNulty has a warm stage presence and a glorious singing voice. Tim Rogan makes for a dashing Lancelot. However, opening night showed some misses in the comic potential of his introductory number, “C’est Moi,” and his top notes are strained in his big ballad, “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
Comic relief is well provided by Mark Poppleton, who does double duty as Arthur’s mercurial teacher, the magician Merlin, and as King Pellinore, a dotty more or less permanent house guest of Arthur and Guinevere. The most fully realized performance is that of Kasidy Devlin as a deliciously wicked Mordred. The men and women of the ensemble are versatile and seamless.
The resourceful scenic design by Kevin Depinet gets maximal value from sliding panels that move unobtrusively on and off stage with scene changes. Costume design by Paul Tazewell is tasteful and period appropriate. Michael McFadden’s direction keeps the action moving forward at an exciting but never frenetic pace.
The tag line for this production is “Camelot…the story as you’ve never seen it before.” An apter line might be be “as you’ve never heard it before,” since musical director Marshall Keating has only four other musicians with him in the orchestra pit. The interplay of guitar/lute, cello, and reeds is the most delectable feature of this "Camelot."