Monday, January 18, 2010

"Like the return of an old friend"

Poor little rich “Camelot.” Ever since its 1960 Broadway debut, the show has had to soothe its bruised self-esteem: It is regularly roughed up by critics, but comforted by the salve of its colossal box-office receipts.

Born in the shadow of another Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe blockbuster, “My Fair Lady,” “Camelot” now spends its middle years eclipsed by that far cheekier King Arthur and the Round Table musical, “Spamalot.”

A commercial juggernaut despite its perennial second-class status, “Camelot” has always had a sure-fire weapon in Loewe’s majestic score. Lerner’s lyrics have their clever moments as well (“In short, there’s simply not/A more congenial spot/For happ’ly-ever-aftering Than Here/In Camelot”). And the harmonious treasures of the original cast album you or your parents probably have tucked away in some attic box are the chief pleasure of David Lee’s new trimmed-down production, which opened Friday at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Doug Carpenter, Shannon Stoeke and Shannon Warne

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