Monday, May 07, 2007

Musical Moments--Camelot


Originally I was hoping to find a clip of Julie Andrews singing "The Lusty Month of May" from Camelot for this week's Musical Moments, it being May and me being a big showtune queen and all, but alas, I was not able to find one of that particular song. At Bluegobo.com there is a clip of Julie Andrews and Richard Burton singing "What Do the Simple Folk Do," from an Ed Sullivan Show appearance however. It's worth a gander over there if you're so inclined. What I was able to find on YouTube.com from Camelot was a clip of Julie Andrews singing the title song at the 1991 Tony Awards. Julie's character of Guinevere never actually sang that song in the show, but it is a lovely backdrop for a montage that someone put together of rare footage, television appearances, costume designs and publicity stills from the original Broadway production. Like the mythical land of which it tells, the original production of Camelot starring Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet was nothing short of idyllic.

One can see what beautiful art direction the show had from the footage shown here and the performances of the three stars are the stuff that Broadway legends are made of. Add to that a masterful score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe and you have an instant classic. The show opened in 1960 following the success of Lerner and Lowe's unprecedented hit, My Fair Lady in 1956. The genius of their music I believe comes in their ability to fully define and develop real, three dimensional characters that the audience becomes invested in, cares about and even grows to love in little more than a three minute song. From the very first moment we meet the character of Arthur when he sings "I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight," or Guinevere singing "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood," or Lancelot with "C'est Moi" we know everything we need to know about those characters. We know who they are, where they came from, what their passions, desires, prejudices, fears and dreams are. Lerner and Lowe's use of language and their ability to write melodies ranging for the most adept of singers like Goulet and Andrews to a non-singing classically trained actor like Burton are unmatched in the musical theatre genre.

Camelot is also often associated with the Kennedy Administration partly because it opened the year he was elected and ran on Broadway during his administration. Supposedly it was one of the president's favorite musicals and it is said he enjoyed listening to the original cast album at the end of a long day as leader of the free world. Camelot also serves as an allegory for the administration itself and the loss of innocence of the country following Kennedy's assasination.

Because the embed feature for this clip has been disabled (see lengthy explanation below) please follow this link to view it. Enjoy!

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9 Comments:

At 3:13 PM, Blogger KipEsquire said...

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At 9:01 PM, Blogger MiKell said...

Don't tell anyone... this is my favorite musical... ever.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Red7Eric said...

It is a marvelous show -- I love it because it's really a musical for grown-ups. The complexity of the characters, particularly Guinevere, is something I didn't fully appreciate as a kid. And Vanessa was fine -- as a comic, probably superior to Julie (who's no slouch in that department), but -- Julie's voice was so magnificent; I really wish they had let her do the movie.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

I don't even have to ASK where you stand on the Julie Andrews vs. Audrey Hepburn controversey! I think its the first thing I blogged on about so check out the earliest archive in my blog: judymeat

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger The Flaming Curmudgeon said...

Ah, memories. I had forgotten that I choreographed a student production of CAMELOT at The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences in the early 1980s. Oh, goodness. What those kiddies must have thought of me! Thanks for making me remember....

 
At 4:48 PM, Blogger Todd HellsKitchen said...

A classic!

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger Donnie said...

Ah....the wonderful Julie Andrews! How I love the sound of her voice. Thanks for this, Michael. :)

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger BigAssBelle said...

i am a showtune princess, and julie andrews' rich, round voice is thrilling. love it.

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Very interesting that you chose Camelot. The tour was just here last week for the Broadway in Chicago series...but alas, we gave our tickets to some friends because we had other commitments.

 

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