Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't Miss Gabriel Byrne as King Arthur on PBS!

This week PBS' Live from Lincoln Center has a real treat -- Thursday night they premiered the minimally-staged version of Lerner and Loewe's classic musical Camelot, the very same production that preemed on Wednesday night in Manhattan and which will be running until Sunday. And, needless to say, which you would be paying upwards of two hundred dollars a ticket if you were to able to get a ticket. It's the very same show, and though I did read some way-insider Broadway-lovers bitching about the production, I thought it was very enjoyable and certainly well worth two and a half hours of your time.

Sure, Gabriel Byrne can't sing, but that's certainly never been a prerequisite for playing Arthur -- ask Richard Burton or Richard Harris -- and I thought his "How to Handle a Woman" was quite good in spite of that. At least he's an actor, and I thought had a charming and possibly even genuine and situational befuddlement that worked for the character. Broadway's Marrin Mazzie plays Guinevere, and opera's Nathan Gunn is Lancelot and both are attractive and effective. The only way over-the-top choice was making Morderd into an exceedingly androgynous punk rocker of sorts, but it wasn't a deal-breaker (just completely out-of-place) and Bobby Steggert certainly went at it with plenty of verve. Stacey Keach is around as Merlin, Fran Drescher has a small role as Morgan Le Fay and Christopher Lloyd is a delightful Pellinore. One thing you will notice, too, is that Camelot has a much better first act than second, by a mile.

I'm a big fan of the trend toward minimally-produced musicals; who needs all that expensive staging and costumes and all that junk? If dispensing with some of the trappings could keep musical theater alive, pare it down, I say!

Check out the PBS website to find out when your local PBS station will be running the special! Many ran it on Thursday but some did not -- L.A. for one -- and there may be plays left in your market, too.

To close, from the "The English are just plain smarter and more interesting than Americans" file, I offer this clip of Nathan Gunn as astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the TV opera Man on the Moon which premiered on British TV in December 2006.


Jane said...

The Man in the Moon opera is absolutely brilliant. Please tell me that there is an entire opera on this theme, because I will leap tall buildings to find it.

You do know that I met Buzz Aldrin in real life a few years ago? He wrote a children's book about space travel and I went to the signing. So I have a signed copy and I got to shake his hand. I'll bet he doesn't know there is an Opera about his Apollo 11 trip to the moon.

Lisa said...

I *knew* you would love the "Man in the Moon" opera; check out all the clips and I'll see what else is available. I'll bet the score must be someplace! And I didn't know you met him! Wow! That's incredibly exciting! In that clip, my favorite line is "I am a Space Man's Wife!" -- boy, I really need to see this, too! The clips are thrilling!