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It first appeared on Broadway more than 50 years ago with the star power of Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Robert Goulet, setting the story of the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to music.
Now "Camelot," the award-winning musical, is coming to Hampton Roads as a joint venture between Virginia Opera and Lyric Opera. The show will play at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach on Friday and Sunday, followed by a Wednesday performance at the Ferguson Center in Newport News.
The show will also be shown at the Landmark Theater in Richmond on Jan. 20.
"Camelot," based on the book "The Once and Future King" by T.H. White, tells the story of King Arthur, his new queen, Guinevere, and the love triangle created when Sir Lancelot arrives in their realm.
In what's billed as being "fresh" and "modern," the production is a little different than what people might associate with a typical opera, in which the orchestra plays from a pit in front of the stage.
In this version of "Camelot," the orchestra is onstage behind the singers - really, part of the scenery, said Adam Turner, the show's conductor and Virginia Opera's resident conductor and chorus master.
Similar set-ups have been done in New York to offer a more concertlike version of a musical, Turner said. In the show, the singers wander through the orchestra, interacting with them.
Even Turner has a few speaking lines.
"It really gives immediacy to the music and the power of the music, while giving a full stage production. It's all still, at the core, the 'Camelot' we all love and know, just elegantly trimmed with a concise story."
The 30-plus-piece orchestra also features at least one instrument that might come as a surprise - a bagpipe. The bagpiper comes onstage with the cast in a "fanfare-ish" kind of moment, Turner said.
Led by award-winning director Greg Ganakas, who has previously directed Virginia Opera productions of "Carousel" and "Porgy and Bess," the show features baritone Peter Kendall Clark, soprano Marissa McGowan and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu.
The singers bring a mix of Broadway and opera backgrounds to their roles in the 2-1/2-hour show, Turner said.
"What is miraculous about 'Camelot' is its powerful romantic spirit. Here is a striking opportunity to transport an audience on a musical journey full of emotion, magic and its own sense of imagination."
When and where 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sandler Center for Performing Arts, Virginia Beach; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News; 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 20) at the Landmark Theater; Richmond.
More info 866-673-7282, www.vaopera.org
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© Kim Root, 2013