COAST Players to transport audiences to magical 'Camelot'

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Lancelot (kneeling), played by Aaron Ford, is made a knight by King Arthur, played by LaShaun Winslow, in this rehearsal scene, Wednesday, from the COAST Players’ upcoming production of “Camelot” at the Performing Arts Center at College of The Albemarle. Also pictured (from left) are the characters Horrid the dog, played by Elise Wilson; Pellinore, played by Richard Merrick; and Guinevere, played by Rebekah Marler.


By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Saturday, October 20, 2018

A triangle of love spins in lyrical bliss as their voices give life to the story of Camelot.

While the existence of King Arthur has never been proven as historical fact, the legend lives on of the king who was victorious in battle while perhaps less victorious in love.

Set in medieval times, “Camelot” tells the story of King Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere, who finds herself having to choose between the love of two men: King Arthur and one of his Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot.

The COAST Players’ production of “Camelot” will begin Thursday at College of The Albemarle’s Performing Arts Center in Elizabeth City.

Jeffrey Emmerich, drama director at COA and director of the COAST Players’ production of “Camelot,” describes it as a “very sophisticated show” that all audiences will enjoy.

Emmerich said children will especially be captivated by the story and costumes of the period.

While Emmerich has never previously produced “Camelot,” he has fond memories of the show.

“I can’t remember not knowing the music of this show,” he said.

Emmerich said he remembers his grandmother, who was a professional pianist, and his aunt, who played the violin in symphony orchestras, performing a “wonderful melody of songs” that included those in “Camelot.”

“I grew up listening to them play,” said Emmerich.

Emmerich said “Camelot” is often linked to John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and people who grew up during that period would recall the famous musical.

In the 1960 musical, Richard Burton portrayed King Arthur, Julie Andrews was Guinevere and Robert Goulet played Lancelot. Alan Jay Lerner penned the book and lyrics and Frederick Loewe wrote the music.

“We didn’t change anything,” said Emmerich. “It’s a beautiful score.”

Emmerich’s wife, Gloria, is the musical director for “Camelot” and conducts the music for the production.

Emmerich said he gave the script to the cast, and “they all soon fell in love with the music.”

LaShaun Winslow portrays King Arthur, Rebekah Marler is Guinevere and Aaron Ford plays Lancelot. All three actors previously performed in various productions, including the COAST Players’ April production of “Beauty and the Beast.” In that musical, Winslow was the Beast, Marler portrayed Mrs. Potts and Ford played LeFou.

“The leading actors have enjoyed digging into the script,” said Emmerich.

Actors began rehearsing for the show in August.

Many of the cast members in Emmerich’s COAST Players’ productions have been or currently are his students at COA.

“I am very proud of them,” said Emmerich. “It is very gratifying to work with the students.”

“They have so many opportunities,” said Emmerich, referring to the productions students are able to participate in at the college.

Emmerich said one of the best-known songs in “Camelot” is “If Ever I Would Leave You,” performed by Ford as Lancelot.

Emmerich’s favorite scene includes the song, “The Lusty Month of May.” He said the song about the “hopeful” season of spring showcases the cast’s voices and the actors’ dancing on stage.

“Camelot is this magical place,” Emmerich said.

Mariah Schierer serves as choreographer and costumer for “Camelot,” and her husband, Nathan, is the set designer and plays the character Mordred in the production. The scenic painter is Jennifer Merrick and the dramaturge is Eben Wilson.

Nathan Schierer constructed a tall tree for the set that allows a character to linger to steal a glimpse of Guinevere.

“We have these wonderful backdrops,” said Emmerich.

He’s also excited about the costumes.

“Women wear amazing full length velvet dresses,” Emmerich said.

The knights don armor and swords. Excalibur, the famous sword associated with King Arthur, remains at the king’s side. Emmerich said Wilson helped research the appropriate weaponry for the scenes, with attention to details like the shape, handles and sheaths of the swords.

Audiences will fall in love with the music and legend of “Camelot.”

Showtimes for the musical are Thursday at 10 a.m.; Friday at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m.; and Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $9.50 to $19.50. Ticket information is located at www.albemarle.edu/for-the-community/the-arts/performing-arts-center/ or by calling 252-335-9050 or 1-800-335-9050.