There are so many stories surrounding the life of King Arthur — the lady in the lake, knights of the Round Table, even Disney produced a cartoon about the “Sword in the Stone.”
One of the biggest stories, however, involves a trusted knight, a beautiful maiden and the fall of the Round Table.
2nd Star Productions will present the musical “Camelot,” starting Friday at the Bowie Playhouse.
Jane Wingard, a founding member of 2nd Star and its president, has directed more than half of the shows there in its 17 seasons.
“Let’s start with 2nd Star Productions and the fact that we don’t do small shows,” Wingard said. “We like doing productions, and we do them well. We have a full live orchestra. I’m an award-winning set builder. We won the WATCH [Washington Area Theatre Community Honors] Award last year for best set painting. It’s a full production, and it lives up to our expectations.
“We have a wonderful Arthur, a beautiful Guinevere, a wonderful Lancelot, a funny King Pellinore, and I think the entire cast is about 40. So it’s big.”
This is the second time Gary Seddon will wear the crown. Seddon said this time he feels he has a better understanding of the king.
“It’s a fantastic role,” Seddon said. “I think it’s a role you can grow into as you get older. It’s a very emotionally charged role. I guess one of the things I really like is that it was John Kennedy’s favorite show. At that time, with the New Frontier and everything, Arthur is doing a lot of what was done there — the idealism is very attractive.”
Shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, it was shared that “Camelot” was his favorite musical. A parallel was drawn between Arthur and Kennedy to the point that people began calling the Kennedy administration the Camelot era.
“I like the show,” Wingard said. “Even though it hits some rough spots — the Round Table falls — the good guys win. I think the clinchers are Arthur’s two soliloquies at the end of Act 1 and the end of Act 2, where good triumphs over revenge and evil. It’s the fortitude of the characters. I’m a Pollyanna, and even though this doesn’t have a happy ending, it’s got a good ending.”
Seddon agrees Arthur’s soliloquies are what hammer home the point of the show.
“The one at the end of Act 1, is really a poignant moment where the tension is building up and Arthur makes the decision to put the welfare of the people above his own feelings,” Seddon said. “To be the king, which is his most important position.”
One thing to keep in mind, Wingard said, is that the show is a long one. When it first premiered back in 1960, it ran about four and a half hours. Cuts have been made to the script since then, but Wingard said audiences should take full use of the intermission.
“We tried to decide what to cut, and there’s nothing in there that needs to be cut,” Wingard said. “We do have a 15 minute intermission with tasty treats in the lobby. But it is a long show. [The audience] can expect to get out around 11. Although we haven’t timed the show, that’s what we expect.
“Our costumer — she was nominated for a WATCH Award. She didn’t win — she’s hungry. She’s out to win this one. People come to ‘Camelot,’ I think, for the story and for the music and for the pageantry. We’ve included it all.”
A total of 40 men and women of all ages make up the cast. Seddon said there hasn’t been any issues with such a large group.
“We have a really wonderful cast, and the other two leads in the show, the three of us have worked together before, so that was great to do that again,” Seddon said. “A lot of the folks who are in the show in smaller roles have worked together before, so it’s kind of like a family.”
For Wingard, in the end it all goes back to the important words said by Arthur.
“If [the audiences] listen to Arthur’s soliloquies, that’s what I want them to take away from the show,” Wingard said. “When good triumphs and hope springs eternal, as well as singing ‘Camelot’ as they’re walking back to their cars. It’s entertainment. It’s going to be a beautiful show.”