When we say Camelot is legendary, we aren’t just talking about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Lerner and Loewe’s enchanting melodies are rivaled by few, and Virginia Opera is thrilled to present them in a fresh, modern production that ushers one of American Musical Theater’s golden-era classics, along with a 1500 year old legend, into the Twenty-First Century.
Life at Camelot for King Arthur and his Queen, Guenevere, is idyllic until the arrival of dashing knight Lancelot sets in motion events that forever change the course of the entire realm. Adapted from T.H. White’s epic “The Once and Future King,” Camelot unfolds the story of the greatest love triangle of all time over a lush and romantic score that includes such hits as “I Loved You Once in Silence” and “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
Guenevere journeys to Camelot to become King Arthur's Queen. The entire court, apart from Arthur whom she has never met, comes to greet her. Nervous and shy, Arthur is hiding in nearby woods where he is surprisingly joined by Guenevere who has slipped away from the ceremony of welcome. Without recognizing each other, Arthur outlines the pleasures of life at Camelot. Upon revealing their identities, they find they are charmed by each other, and go forth happily to the wedding. Arthur's tutor, the magician Merlin, is lured away by the water nymph Nimue, but not before he has inspired Arthur to favor the establishment of peace and brotherhood in Camelot.
Five years pass and Arthur brings tranquility and justice to his domain with the establishment of the celebrated Round Table. This new concept of chivalry has its advocates charged with improving rather than destroying, with redressing past wrongs and aiding the oppressed—using “might for right.” The table at which these knights will meet will be round so that no one man can take precedence by sitting at the head. The fame of Arthur's Order of the Round Table quickly spreads and brings the finest of Europe's knighthood to Camelot. No knight is more renowned than Frenchman Lancelot du Lac, who confidently proclaims that he is the most extraordinary mortal and invincible knight—a perfect choice for Arthur’s Round Table. Upon his arrival, Arthur introduces Lancelot to Guenevere and the court at a castle festival. Lancelot is insufferable, and everyone, especially the Queen, takes an instant dislike to him. Guenevere goes so far as to make sport of him through her invitations to three Round Table knights to a jousting match. When the knights are challenged, Guenevere permits them to wear her kerchief as a token of favor. The King tries to dissuade her from siding with the court against Lancelot, but she is adamant.
Lancelot is victorious in the jousts, and exhibits a strange power of purity and faith that gradually wins the respect of the court. This adoration of the crowd extends to Guenevere, who, to her dismay, finds herself falling in love with him. Lancelot’s feelings toward Guenevere speedily develop into a deep but silent love, which wars with his great affection for Arthur. To ease his conflict of emotions, Lancelot asks Arthur's leave to depart on quests, and Guenevere ponders what may happen. Two years pass before Lancelot's return, when Arthur invests him with Knighthood of the Round Table. Lancelot reveals his love to Guenevere, but they strive to conceal their situation from Arthur. Arthur, however, is aware of their feelings, but submerges his resentment to preserve peace in Camelot.
Several years later, Guenevere and Lancelot are still tormented by their unfulfilled love. She tries to get rid of him, but Lancelot will not leave her. They both believe that Arthur is not aware of it. Nevertheless, she remains faithful to Arthur, and helps him in carrying out the affairs of State.
Arthur's illegitimate son, Mordred, arrives at Camelot and attempts to dishonor the King in order to ascend the throne in his place. Arthur puts him in charge of the knights’ training program, not knowing that Mordred loathes and sneers at Arthur's dreams of peace with honor and is there to destroy the Round Table in revenge against Arthur for abandoning him.
The Knights of the Round Table grow restless with perpetual peace and inaction. Through a ruse of Mordred's, Arthur is trapped in the enchanted forest of Morgan le Fey overnight while Lancelot visits Guenevere in her chambers. Mordred bursts into the room with a group of knights, accusing Guenevere of treason. Lancelot escapes, but she is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake under the code of justice Arthur has worked so long to establish. At the last moment Lancelot rescues her and takes her to France, and Arthur is forced to make war against France for the sake of his own honor and that of Camelot. Just before the final battle, he meets them both, and generously forgives them.
Moments before the battle begins, Arthur discovers a young stowaway who aspires to join the Round Table. As a final gesture of hope for the future, Arthur knights the boy in the field and sends him back to England, charging him, when he grows up, to tell another generation of the noble ideals of Camelot.
In 1959, Alan Jay Lerner and Moss Hart decided to adapt T. H. White's The Once and Future King as their next project. As discussed in Lerner's 1978 book, The Street Where I Live, Frederick Loewe, who had no interest in the project, agreed to write music, with the understanding that if things went badly, it would be his last score. After the tremendous success of My Fair Lady, expectations were high for a new Lerner and Loewe musical. However, the show's production met several obstacles. Lerner's wife left him during the writing process, causing him to seek medical attention and delaying the production. When Camelot began rehearsals, it still needed considerable work. However, the producers were able to secure a strong cast including Julie Andrews, Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall, as well as Robert Goulet in his first Broadway role.
Camelot opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on December 3, 1960 and closed on January 5, 1963 after 873 performances and 2 previews. Directed by Moss Hart, the choreography was by Hanya Holm, scenic design by Oliver Smith, costume design by Adrian (who worked on the designs prior to his death in September 1959) and Tony Duquette, and lighting design by Feder. It won four Tony Awards (Best Actor in a Musical, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Conductor/Musical Director). The original cast album was America's top-selling LP for 60 weeks.
The obstacles encountered in producing Camelot were hard on the creative partnership of Lerner and Loewe, and the show turned out to be one of their last collaborations (although they did work together to adapt their 1958 movie "Gigi" to the stage in 1973, and collaborated again the following year on the movie musical "The Little Prince").
The collaborative team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe were an undeniable force for the Broadway stage and American musical theater from 1947 into the 1960s and their musicals – Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot– still live on in revival performances and in their movie versions.
Alan Jay Lerner (playwright and lyricist) was born on August 31, 1918, one of three sons of Joseph Lerner, the founder of Lerner Stores, Inc. His education took him to Harvard, and the Juilliard School of Music. He had done sketches and lyrics for two Harvard Hasty Pudding shows. After graduating from Harvard in 1940, Lerner went on to write advertising copy and scripts for such radio shows as the Philco Hall of Fame.
"Fritz" Loewe (composer) was older than his partner, having been born on June 10, 1904, in Vienna, Austria, the son of Edmund Loewe, a well-known operetta tenor. A precocious youth, Loewe was playing piano at age four and had by age nine composed the tunes for a music hall sketch with which his father toured Europe. At 15 he had a hit song with "Katrina," which sold three million copies in Europe. In 1924 he came with his father to America, but his initial engagements at New York's Town Hall and the Rivoli Theatre did not lead to follow-up bookings and his career seemed to stall.
The two met by chance at the Lambs Club in New York City in 1942 and began to make history. Their first collaboration was Life of the Party in 1942– an adaptation of Barry Conner's farce, The Patsy– for a Detroit stock company. It ran for nine weeks, and they followed it with a musical comedy, What's Up?, which ran for 63 performances on Broadway in 1943. In 1945 they created The Day Before Spring.
But these were just warm-ups for what was to come. On March 13, 1947 the curtain went up for the first time on Brigadoon. This one was a solid hit. Based on Germelshausen, by Friedrich Gerstacker, it concerns a mysterious, now Scottish, town which reappears to the outside world for only one day each century. The original production at the Ziegfield Theatre ran for 581 performances, and led to the 1954 movie adaptation, which featured Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse and Van Johnson. The New York Drama Critics Circle voted it the "best musical" the year it opened and it has been revived frequently over the years.
In 1951 Lerner & Loewe were back on Broadway with Paint Your Wagon, which opened at the Shubert Theatre on November 12th. It had a respectable run of 289 performances, and was adapted for the 1969 film which featured Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg.
Then came My Fair Lady—one of the most spectacular successes in American theater. The musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on March 15, 1956. It broke all existing world records, playing 2,717 performances over a period of more than nine years. Oddly, Lerner & Loewe got a shot at doing this adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's 1914 play, Pygmalion, only after Noel Coward and Rodgers & Hammerstein had passed it up. Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews starred on Broadway, but when the 1964 movie was made Andrews was rejected by the movie's producers in favor of Audrey Hepburn, while Harrison kept his role.
The team collaborated on the film, Gigi, based on the novel by Colette, released in 1958. When first announced, the project was seen by some as a transparent attempt to repeat the team's success with My Fair Lady – which, for contractual reasons, would not be filmed for years yet. Such doubts were dispelled when the film was released, and it subsequently won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1958.
Lerner & Loewe's last Broadway hit was Camelot, which opened at the Majestic Theatre on December 3, 1960 and ran for 873 performances. Julie Andrews returned to join an all-star cast of Richard Burton and Robert Goulet, and the production went on to win four Tony Awards, In many minds it will always be linked with the presidency of John F. Kennedy, whose brief time in the White House has been compared with and likened to Camelot. The movie version was released in 1967. Loewe suffered a heart attack in 1958 and after Camelot went into retirement.
King Arthur • Peter Kendall Clark
Queen Guenevere • Marissa McGowan
Sir Lancelot • Eugene Brancoveanu
Mordred • Jon Peterson
Merlyn • John Paul Almon
Nimue • Shannon Jennings
Sir Dinadan • Jeremiah Johnson
Sir Lionel • Patrick O’Halloran
Sir Sagramore • Wesley Evans
Tom Warwicke • Taylor Markham
Lead Female Dancer • Debbi Fuhrman
Lead Male Dancer • Tabb Nance
Conductor • Adam Turner
Stage Director • Greg Ganakas
Scenic Designer • Donald Eastman
Costume Designer • Gregory Gale
Lighting Designer • Kenneth L. Steadman
Wig and Make-Up Designer • James P. McGough
Choreographer • Debbi Fuhrman
Peter Kendall Clark, a New Yorker with Virginia roots, has sung principle roles with: Skylight (Pirate King, Don Alfonso), Ashlawn (King Arthur, Henry Higgins, Frank Butler), Caramoor (Papageno), Chelsea, (Count), Opera Slavica (Onegin), Elysium (at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and Bernried Festival). 2012-13 season highlights: St. Peterburg Opera debut Sweeney Todd, Camelot (Orchestra Kentucky), recording: the OPERA America Songbook (available on iTunes), Off-Broadway runs of The Medium (Mr. Gobineau) and The Most Happy Fella “…a strapping, energetic Joe, and his soothingly sexy rendition of “Don’t Cry” was, in its own way, the most memorable vocal moment of the show.”-OPERA NEWS. Upcoming: John Adams (his forbearer) in A Distant Love for Chelsea Opera. www.peterkendallclark.com.
Most recently Marissa originated the role of Stella Purdy in the new Broadway-bound musical The Nutty Professor directed by Jerry Lewis. Broadway: A Little Night Music Revival with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury (Original Cast Recording),Bonnie and Clyde (Original Cast Recording) Les Misérables (Revival and National Tour) where she performed both the roles of Eponine and Cosette. Favorite regional: The Sound of Music (Maria), Lyric Theatre; Camelot (Guenevere), Big River (Mary Jane) Goodspeed; Sweeney Todd (Johanna), Geva Theatre; Love According to Luc (Luc), Greenwich Street Theatre; ...FORUM (Philia), Kiss Me Kate (Lois/Bianca), Weston Playhouse. BFA Syracuse University. For my family and Jon. www.marissamcgowan.com
In 2012-13 Eugene Brancoveanu sings “Songs of a Wayfarer” in a return to Peninsula Symphony Orchestra; as soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra; directs La bohème and sings as Marcello for Livermore Valley Opera; and in recital at Brookings Harbor Friends of Music. Recently he sang the title role in Shostakovich’s opera Orango with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Peter Sellars directing, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting; soloist in Carmina Burana with Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Marin Symphony; an opera arias concert with Davis Symphony; and was featured in the national broadcast of Michael Tilson Thomas’ The Tomashevskys.
Broadway: Cabaret (Emcee). Song Man Dance Man Milwaukee Rep 2011/12/LA & Off-Broadway (nominee: Connecticut Critics’ Circle Award, Outstanding Actor in a Musical/Outstanding Musical [writer]), Cabaret (Emcee) John Engeman. NY Singin’ in the Rain (Cosmo Brown)-Ogunquit Playhouse (nominee: IRNE Award Best Supporting Actor) Other Off Broadway: George M. Cohan Tonight! (George M - Drama Desk Award nominee, Best Solo Performance, 2006 Drama League Honoree, Connecticut Critics’ Circle Award, Outstanding Actor in a Musical), Have a Heart, The George M. Cohan Revue (George) – Bistro Award Best Performer in a Revue. National Tour and Regional: Sophisticated Ladies (Gateway Playhouse), Half a Sixpence (Arthur Kipps)-Goodspeed Opera House. The World Goes Round, (Man #1), The Rocky Horror Show (Frank ‘n’ Furter), Cabaret (National Tour)(Emcee)–nominee National Broadway Theatre Award Best Actor in a Musical, A Chorus Line (Paul).
Comes to Virginia Opera directly from starring alongside the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. He spent the past three years with The Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. Broadway and First National Tours include, Parade, Side Show, The Scarlet Pimpernel, My Fair Lady ( Kennedy Center) and “Funny Girl in Concert” with Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Chenowith, and Bebe Neuwirth. He has starred in Brigadoon, Man of La Mancha, Do I Hear a Waltz? and with Linda Eder in Frank Wildhorn’s new musical Camille Claudel at Goodspeed Opera House. He won the Carbonnel Award for Romeo and Bernadette at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.
Lyric soprano Shannon Jennings made her professional debut in 2010 singing Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte as a Young Artist with the Mittelsächsisches Theater in Germany. Last season, she was praised by the Orlando Sentinel as “a lilting voice that tugs at the heartstrings” for her performance of Monica in The Medium with Florida Opera Theatre. Recent engagements include singing as a Young Artist with Lyric Opera Virginia, a Studio Artist with Wolf Trap Opera Company, and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with Florida Opera Theatre. As a second-year Studio Artist, she will sing the role of Maddalena in Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims with Wolf Trap Opera Company this coming summer.
Texan native Jeremiah Johnson is excited to begin his first year as an Emerging Artist with Virgina Opera. Mr. Johnson will be covering roles all season including Zurga in Les Pecheurs de Perles, Falke in Die Fledermaus, Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro. He has performed roles with Utah Festival Opera, Opera Memphis, Mississippi Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera. Mr. Johnson’s past roles include John Proctor in The Crucible, Belcore in Elixir of Love, and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor.
A native of Overland Park, KS, tenor Patrick O’Halloran is a promising lyric voice. Most recently he was seen performing Rodolfo in La bohéme in Central City Opera’s family performance.This season as an Emerging Artist he will cover the roles of Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, and Steve Hubble in A Streetcar Named Desire. He will also sing the role of Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. In November, he sings the role of Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Lafayette Symphony, and in September of 2013, Patrick makes his Kentucky Opera mainstage debut as Rodolfo in La bohéme.
Wesley Evans, a Hampton Roads native, is excited to return to the Virginia Opera mainstage in this 2012-2013 season; he sang in the chorus of The Pearl Fishers, and will cover in The Marriage of Figaro. Mr. Evans has been an artist with Virginia Opera since 2010, when he made is debut as Count Ceprano in Rigoletto. Other roles have included Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore, The Vicar in Albert Herring, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, The Father in Hansel and Gretel, and he premiered the role of The Advisor in David and Glass. Wesley studied Vocal Performance at both Old Dominion and Christopher Newport University.
Virginia Opera: Pinocchio. Lincoln Center NY: Cinderella, Merry Widow. Papermill Playhouse: Peter Pan, Gigi, My Fair Lady, Fanny. Sacramento: The Fantasticks. Television: Hope and Faith, Canterbury’s Law, Passions. Film: The Savages. First person inducted into Brown University’s Sports Hall of Fame for gymnastics. Debbi teaches fitness world wide - everything from Aerobics to Aqua Zumba! www.debbifuhrman.com
Tabb Nance is happy to return to Virginia Opera, for this special production of Camelot. This will be the third collaboration, for this role variation with Greg Ganakas & Debbi Furman. Previously they mounted Pinocchio at the Opera House in Norfolk where he played the role of Gino. The first production together was A Christmas Carol at North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts. Other credits include Cinderella, Merry Widow, and La Rondine (NYC Opera), A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Carousel, West Side Story, Lady in the Dark, and Will Roger’s Follies.
The 2012-13 season marks Adam Turner’s second season as Resident Conductor and Chorus Master of Virginia Opera, with which he made his mainstage conducting debut in March 2012 leading performances of The Mikado. During the 2011-12 season, Mr. Turner appeared as Guest Chorus Master for Candide with Portland Opera and returned as Associate Conductor for a second summer with Central City Opera, where he led performances of La bohème and Oklahoma! Previously, he served as Conductor and Coach with Stadttheater Pforzheim in Germany, where he conducted over 30 performances of productions including La bohème, Paganini, Les Misérables, and High Society. Mr. Turner’s past positions include Assistant Conductor with Florida Grand Opera, Syracuse Opera, and Hot Springs Music Festival, Resident Conductor and Chorus Master of the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and Vocal Coach for Tulsa Opera and Washington National Opera’s Institute for Young Singers. Conducting appearances during the 2012-13 season include productions of Camelot and Carousel with Virginia Opera and Roméo et Juliette with The Catholic University of America. In the summer of 2013, Mr. Turner will join Seattle Opera as Assistant Conductor and Vocal Coach on Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Award-winning director, choreographer and teacher Greg Ganakas is represented by DGRW Talent Agency, NYC.
A winner of the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical (Brigadoon), Ganakas’ credits include direction of many musical theatre productions, as well as opera, television and industrials. Credits include collaborations with Disney Live Entertainment and Radio City Music Hall Productions. A committed educator, he has served on the faculty of New York University, where he founded their nationally-renown Music Theatre program. Gankas’ musical theatre directional credits include productions of Caroline, or Change at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC; Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Dallas Theatre Center; the world premiere of God Lives in Glass at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City, Double Trouble at Stage One in Wichita; the world premiere of The Times at The Long Wharf, New Haven; Oklahoma! at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul; several productions at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut (Babes in Arms, George M, The Pajama Game, and Brigadoon. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Dean Goodman Award for Outstanding Production) at the American Music Theatre of San Jose; the world premiere of White Lies at the American Stage Company in New Jersey; the National Tour Revival of the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Winner of the 2005 Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Musical); and numerous productions at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Massachusetts. His acclaimed work on the long-running, award-winning production of A Christmas Carol at North Shore Music Theatre earned the honor of Best Production of the Season by The Boston Globe, as well as the Moss Hart Awards for Best Direction and Best Production of the Year. His array of work in opera and concerts includes his direciton of “An Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan” with the Boston Pops and Beverly Sills, which was aired on PBS’ Great Performances series. He has also directed productions for the Minnesota Opera, Opera Omaha (including their 2001 “All-American” Gala Concert), Glimmerglass Opera and Michigan Opera Theare. Ganakas served as Artistic Director for six years of the John Harms Center for the Performing Arts in Englewood, New Jersey. Throughout his career, he has worked with numerous stars. He is especially proud of his twelve-year association with New York University, where he founded the Music Theatre Program in the Steinhardt School of Education. His guidance and expertise helped make it one of the highest-regarded programs for musical theatre training in the country. Throughout his tenure, he mentored countless young artists, who have gone on to successful careers in the theatre and have made award-winning contributions to the performing arts. Originally from East Lansing, Michigan, Greg Ganakas resides in New York City.
Donald Eastman (set design) opened this season at Virginia Opera with The Pearl Fishers. His work can currently be seen with My Fair Lady for Arena Stage and with their upcoming production of Mary T & Lizzy K. He is designing The Marriage of Figaro and The Rape of Lucretia for the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera. His designs have been seen on and off Broadway and with opera and theatre companies across America. Donald has received numerous awards including an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence.
Broadway: Cyrano de Bergerac, Tony Award Nomination, Henry Hewes Design Award Nomination. Also seen on PBS Great Performances; Arcadia; Rock of Ages, Tony Award Nomination. Henry Hewes Design Award Nomination; The Wedding Singer, Drama Desk Nomination; Urinetown, Lucille Lortel Nomination; Band in Berlin. Off-Broadway: The Voysey Inheritance, Lucille Lortel Award. Henry Hewes Design Award Nomination (Atlantic); The Milliner, Lucille Lortel Nomination (CSC); The Third Story, Henry Hewes Design Award Nomination (MTC); Mary Stuart; The Infernal Machine; The Stronger; The Prince of Homburg (Jean Cocteau). Opera: The Magic Flute (Chicago Opera Theater); Bitter Sweet (Bard Summerscape). Irene Sharaff Young Master Award. www.gregorygale.com
Kenneth L. Steadman has worked with Virginia Opera for over 15 years. Past designs for Virginia Opera include The Mikado, Cosi Fan Tutti, Porgy and Bess, Daughter of the Regiment, Madama Butterfly, and The Marriage of Figaro. Mr. Steadman has also worked with Peoria Civic Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Ballet Virginia International, Richmond Ballet, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Early Music Festival, Caramoor Music Festival and Buckhill/Skytop Music festival, to name a few.
James P. McGough is pleased to return for his 15th season with the Virginia Opera. He is excited to work on new operas this year as well as revisiting some “old friends.” He enjoys collaborating on both new, innovative productions as well as traditional approaches to the operas we present. During the off season, Jim is a designer and make-up artist for Fort Worth Opera Festival. Over a 25 year career, Jim’s work has been seen in theatres across the U.S. from Broadway to regional productions. He dedicates this season to the loving memory of his parents.