It’s knight time in Wyandotte as King Arthur’s court brings Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot” to life onstage at the Downriver Actors Guild.
The Tony Award-winning musical runs 7:30 p.m. May 6, 7, 13 and 14, and 3 p.m. May 8 and 15 at the theater, 2656 Biddle in Wyandotte.
Set in mythical Camelot, King Arthur gathers his knights at a round table, calls for an end to violence, and begins a quest for honor and justice. Queen Guenevere, French knight Lancelot, and Arthur’s illegitimate son Mordred add to the intrigue.
The show contains many memorable songs, including “Camelot,” “The Lusty Month of May,” “How to Handle a Woman” and “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
Peter Sonnberg-Schmidt of Novi directed and choreographed the show, with Wendy Fichter of Allen Park as musical director and Cindy Nagy of Taylor as producer.
The leads includes John Sartor of Canton Township as King Arthur, Emily Noble of Wyandotte as Guenevere, Bryan Aue of Taylor as Lancelot and Michael Suchyta of Dearborn as Mordred.
Supporting players include Barbara Day of Belleville as Morgan Le Fey, Dee Morrison of Canton Township as Lady Sybil, Jaclyn Duvall of Dearborn as Nimue, Dylan Seets of Riverview as Thomas of Warwick and Squire Dap and Sydney Robinson of Southgate as Lady Anne.
The knights include Jim Wolbrink of Detroit as Sir Lionel, Taylor residents Jay Carter and Ray Carter as Sir Clarius and Sir Sagamore, respectively, Jeff Hollon of Trenton as Sir Dinadan and Glen Reynolds of Wyandotte as Pellinore.
Other ladies of Camelot include Ashley Blevins of Allen Park, Trenton residents Erin K. Schmidt and Wendy Hollon, and Ashley Gatesy of Westland.
Sonnberg-Schmidt said he was eager to direct “Camelot” because it is seldom staged and features Lerner and Loewe’s beautiful score.
“The theme of Camelot, ‘might for right,’ holds true today,” Sonnberg-Schmidt said, “coupled with the torment of love lost and love gained.”
He said DAG’s production is character-driven.
“Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot drive the story forward,” Sonnberg-Schmidt said. “The audience also enjoys some very funny moments from Pellinore to Merlin, (and) the villains Mordred and Morgan Le Fey.”
Sartor said Sonnberg-Schmidt is one of the best directors he has ever worked with.
“He allows you to take chances and take risks,” Sartor said. “He doesn’t pull you back. He’s a very nurturing director who knows what he wants and will get what he wants.”
Sartor, who played Arthur in 1990 at the Players Guild of Dearborn, under the direction of Bob Jones, said he’s used the monologues in auditions for years., and this time he is approaching the role of Arthur from more mature, experienced point of view.
He said Arthur’s credo, “might for right” not “might is right,” underlies the king’s belief that power should be used for the good of all.
“He wanted a peaceful society,” Sartor said. “I think our entire society needs to tap into that. He says, ‘Lay down your arms and let there be peace.’ When you have power and influence, let it be used in a positive way.”
Sartor said “Camelot” has one of the best love stories written for musical theatre.
“Arthur goes through a thought process when he realizes his best friend (Lancelot) is in love with his wife (whom) he is so in love with,” Sartor said. “They don’t choose to betray him. It is that strong of a love between (Lancelot and Guenevere) that they have no choice but to follow it, and Arthur accepts that.”
Aue said his favorite part of the show is when he see the love Arthur has for his character, Lancelot, and for Guenevere, but has conflicted feeling about their betrayal.
“Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot’s quest for equality and fairness is a noble cause, but one that is not easy or without complication,” Aue said. “This is about the rise and fall of a man, but the creation of an idea that will carry on.”
Noble said Arthur’s vision for democracy and justice never goes out of style.
“He seeks to use his royal station to spread peace and right wrongs through fair trial,” Noble said. “Humanity still searches to this day to balance power with great responsibility.”
She said the show is close to her heart because “Camelot” one of her mother’s favorite shows, and because of the vocal talents of Julie Andrews, who played Guenevere on Broadway.
Noble said she never passes up a chance to work with DAG, and the intimacy of the theater allows audiences to connect with the story on a deeper level.
“I am always impressed by the level of talent and professionalism that this organization brings to the stage,” she said. “The music and exquisite costuming add a richness and complexity to the popular tale.”
Suchyta said when he plays an evil character like Mordred he has to find redeemable qualities in them that he can identify with.
He said Mordred never understood why the man who raised him hated him until his mother told him that was not his father, and that Mordred was Arthur’s son.
“He feels like he’s been wronged, and he’s basically seeking what he sees as a just revenge on King Arthur for abandoning him as a son all these years ago,” Suchyta said, “and leaving him in a home where he does not feel appreciated.”
He said Mordred is driven to get what he feels he deserves.
Sonberg-Schmidt said the torment of love lost and gained, coupled with the timeless score gives “Camelot” its appeal.
“See the show and you will know why ‘Camelot’ is still strong and certainly relevant today,” Sonnberg-Schmidt said.
“The show has action, magic and romance,” Aue said. “What more could you want?”
Tickets are $16 for adults, with a $3 discount for students and seniors. To order, or for more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net. (Source: Downriver Actors Guild)