Camelot – A Relevant Reflection on Today’s Culture

Carlson Theatre

Bellevue College Theatre Arts presents Camelot on March 6-9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Carlson Theatre. Attendees are advised to arrive at least 15 minutes early to the performance. Tickets are sold online at $10 for students, faculty and staff members and $15 to the public. The show is suitable for ages eight and up.

Camelot is a musical by Alan J. Lerner and Fredrick Lowe, written in 1967. It is about the marriage of England’s ambitious King Arthur to the strong Queen Guinevere. Arthur is determined to move his kingdom away from constant war and into a world of negotiated peace amidst knights and lords accustomed to battle. A forbidden love with a new member of the Round Table and a bitter unrecognized son will set the stage for this classic musical about love, devotion, loyalty and the dream of a peaceful world.

            Tammi Doyle, chair of the Theatre Arts Department of Drama and Dance, who directed the performance said, “[Camelot] was inspired by a book called The Once and Future King by T. H. White, which was written after the World War II, which is fascinating. A lot of people know the story of Camelot because of Kennedy’s presidency. Especially after his assassination. He was the new young leader and the thing that was going to be shining but was not. That is kind of where it lives on in the culture, American culture a little bit.”

            Doyle continued, “One of the things I love about it is that it’s mature. [King Arthur and Queen Guinevere] kind of live with the fact that they know the love affair is going on for quite a while, and it blows up in the end. It’s really about the whole idea of not ‘might for right’, not bullying, the idea that talking and negotiation are important. I think we need that right now. At the end of Act One, King Arthur says, ‘violence is not strength, and compassion is not weakness.’”

            It is a traditionally long show. The cast and crew are adding rehearsals to their schedules due to campus closures on the snow days. “We have professional designers, a professional lighting designer, student assistant lighting designer, student assistant stage manager, fight director and student assistant fight director. It is all student managed. It is musically directed by Aimee Hong, Choreography by Laura Peterson. All the cast are students, and they mostly have taken theatre classes. We have people into Computer Science and Business, and they just love to do this. People are trying to keep their passion alive,” said Doyle.

            According to Doyle, students can learn to build a community, respect others, talk with each other, deal with stress, polish their presentation skills and develop their performance skills throughout this experience. Anyone can audition to be a part of the cast of the shows, and Doyle encourages that.

            Professor Michael Brendt, scenic designer and technical director of Camelot, said “I have a class that spends time building for the stage crafts, as well as our Drama 101 students who came into the shop and put in some hours to make the set as beautiful as it can be.” Brendt continued, “The play would not exist without our collaboration. I think a lot of our students get to see a lot of sides of theatre, and we teach that here.” Brendt expressed appreciation for everyone who contributed to the performance.