TAKE A PEEK AT "CALENDAR GIRLS"

By BONNIE GOLDBERG

Enter a magical and mystical land of pomp and pageantry known as Camelot where a powerful but questioning King Arthur holds sway over his beautiful wife Guenevere and his loyal cadre of knights known as the Round Table.  This Lerner and Loewe musical is being gloriously brought to life in splendid style by Summer Theatre of New Canaan, in an open air tent, in Waveny Park in New Canaan, only until Sunday, August 2.  It’s a family experience you won’t want to miss.

Once the young Arthur, affectionately known as Wart, a pupil of the grand wizard Merlin (Roland Llewellyn), pulls the sword Excalibur from the stone, his fate as the future King of England is sealed.  This great musical, adapted from T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” begins when an uncertain Arthur, majestically portrayed by Sean Hannon is posed to meet his bride Guenevere, the deliciously lovely Allison Gray, on the eve of their arranged marriage.  Neither is too eager for the match, but fate and love conspire to bring them together.

Arthur determines to create a new order of chivalry, to espouse the virtues of right, honor and justice, during his reign and to bring all the finest and most courageous knights to his newly created Round Table.  To that end, he summons Sir Sagramore (Jonathan Grunert), Sir Lionel (Scott Ramsey), Sir Dinaden (Kenneth Linsley) and the grandest, bravest, noblest and most immodest of them all Sir Lancelot, played by a perfectly handsome and hearty Richard Hartley.

Arthur’s grand plan for peace is challenged with the advent of the maliciously scheming Mordred, creatively wicked in the hands of Christian Libonati and the conniving Morgan LeFey, portrayed by the mystical Emilie Roberts who stir up the pot with treason, treachery and revenge.  Melody Libonati directs a superb cast, with fantastic costuming by Arthur Oliver, imaginative choreography by Doug Shankman and luminous lighting by Jeffrey Whitsett.  The action is so close and intimate you can practically count the freckles and touch the dimples of the delightful cast that includes an adult ensemble, a youth ensemble, a teen ensemble and a cute pooch.

Glorious music, directed by Tyler Beattie, swirls romantically throughout.  Such songs as “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “Camelot” and “Take Me to the Fair” are poignant or delightful in turn.

For tickets ($35-50, hillside $25), call STONC at 203-966-4634 or online at www.stonc.org for performances tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.  Matinees offer a talk back with actors and staff post-show. Take exit 37 off the Merritt and go left.  Free parking is located one entrance after the park on Farm Road at New Canaan High School. Picnics are welcome.  Shows run rain or shine.

Remember the presidency of John F. Kennedy and the current reign of Barack Obama and the legacy of promise and hope that sprang from that “fleeting wisp of glory called Camelot.”  Capture that sparkle for yourself in this shining production by the Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

This review appeared in the Middletown Press.

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