Bay Street Theater’s intimate staging of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot soars amidst a Bridgehampton Field.
By: Patrick Christiano
August 8, 2021: Bay Street Theater returns with a magical staging of Lerner and Loewe’s beloved musical, Camelot, which opened last night in Bridgehampton. The evening, directed by Scott Schwartz, Bay Street Theater’s Artistic Director, features a strong cast and a superb score by the gifted duo, who gave us another enduring classic, My Fair Lady, which Bay Street staged to stunning effect in 2016. And then, there are classic songs like, “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “Camelot,” “What Do the Simple Folk Do,” and “I Loved You Once In Silence,” songs you go out of the theater humming, which return to you, again, the following day.
The deft staging by Scott Schwartz beautifully melds his dramatically scaled down vision into a simpler, less dense, tale that nonetheless hits all the right marks and in many ways is even more cohesive. The original book was overly talky, filled with long speeches, and the evening ran close to 3 hours. Now at under two, the story is condensed to its heart and soul, and works even better, in many ways, highlighting its relevance today.
The story begins shortly after Arthur has been made King of Camelot and marries Guenevere. Several years later living an idyllic life with his Queen, he creates the Knights of the Round Table, who fight for justice, only to see his ideals fall apart when his Queen falls in love with his best friend and favorite knight, Sir Lancelot.
There may be less spectacle, with a focus on comedy and romance, and the cast has been trimmed from 15 to 11, however what remains is simply delightful, a perfect summer evening, under the stars, with playful tunes and soaring romantic ballads. The three leads, Jeremy Kushnier, Britney Coleman, and Deven Kolluri as King Arthur, Guenevere, and Sir Lancelot, respectively have rich luminous voices that are a thrilling match to the classic songs. Together, they make for a charming and passionate love triangle, at the center of the tale.
The supporting cast is uniformly wonderful. Aaron Dalla Villa has an exciting presence as Mordred and Hope Hamilton, the granddaughter of Dame Julie Andrews, who originated the role of Guenevere on Broadway with Richard Burton as her King in 1961, shines in her professional Theater debut.
Every element of the intimate staging, choreography, sound, lights, the simple two- story sets and the minimal costumes work effortlessly to illuminate the story. The musical, performed with five musicians, is more than a welcome delight, coming two years since Bay Street last mounted one. And to think the production rose like a phoenix amidst a field just south of the highway in Bridgehampton, behind the Carvel, in less than two weeks. I would call that simply marvelous.
Based on “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White. Book adapted by David Lee. New Orchestrations by Steve Orich.
Cast: Klye Lopez Barisich, Britney Coleman, Aaron Dalla Villa, Amaya Grier, Hope Hamilton, James Harkness, Deven Kolluri, Jeremy Kushnier, David LaMarr, Ceclia Ticktin, Kevin Wang. Dance Captain: James Harkness
Music Director/Arranger: Matt Hinkley
Musicians: Drums: Ed Chiarello, Upright/Bass: Sean Murphy, Flute: David Wechsler, Keys: Christine Cadarette, Conductor/Guitars/Mandolin/Banjo: Matt Hinkley. Choreographer: Marcos Santana, Scenic design & props: Andrew Diaz, Costumes: Meghan O’Beirne, Lighting: Mike Billings, Sound: Shaughn Bryant, Stage Manager: Christine Catti, Assistant Stage Manager: Kelsy Durkin, Assistant Director: Cameron King, Assistant Music Director: Christine Cadarette, Casting: Stewart Whitley, Directed by: Scott Schwartz.