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European-American Topics - Culture - Camelot

Does having a crush on Michael York affect your objectivity?

By Denise Gibbs
Contributing writer
Posted March 27, 2007

  Photo: Craig Schwartz

At the tender age of 65, film heartthrob legend, Michael York, is having a three-week stay in Seattle in the national Broadway tour of Camelot now playing at the historic 5th Ave. Theatre until April 8. York best known for his roles as D’Artagnan in the 1973 movie The Three Musketeers and in 1971 opposite Liza Minnelli in the Bob Fosse film version of Cabaret, still has star power in his first ever North American tour.

In a recent Seattle Times article York said he grew up on stories about Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

"It seemed to me an appropriate time to revive this,” York said. “There's a whole generation that hasn't seen it yet. And it portrays a ruler who felt that violence was not strength and compassion was not weakness.”

York portrays a loving, gentle yet regal King Arthur who rules his kingdom with justice and devotion. Though British born York may not be the strongest singer and dancer, his version of Arthur with his rich English accent and fair looks is very believable. It even brings justification to the story when his beautiful blossoming Queen Guenevere, magnificently played by Broadway award winning performer, Rachel York (no relation), falls in love with the much younger, tall dark and handsome Sir Lancelot, winningly portrayed by Broadway pro, James Barbour.

Arthur’s love for Lancelot seems to be a more fatherly love, as is his love for Guenevere at times. Though young York seems to bring out older York’s famous boyish qualities that we all fell in love with over 30 years ago. York and York are a good pair on stage and it still convincingly hurts when Guenevere lets her young lustful girlish desires take over as she gives her heart to Lancelot.

Rachel York’s wonderfully strong soprano and charismatic acting equals Barbour’s rich baritone and at times comedic Lancelot. The strong supporting cast balances out the production along with the rich scenery, lighting and costumes.

Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner’s children, Liza and Michael, revamped the show for this new tour.

“ We have told this famous story in a new, very appealing and concise way,” Liza Lerner said in the production notes. “Our new production of Camelot is a lot grittier and a little sexier.”

The story is still intact and we still feel strongly towards Guenevere’s and Lancelot’s betrayal of the kind yet older Arthur.

Different from the original Broadway production, the most compelling and exciting joust scene, Lancelot saving Guenevere from burning at the stake and Merlin being taken away by Nimue are now shown on stage rather than being sung by a chorus of the action taking place offstage.

“The musical is now much more visual,” Michael Lerner. “Much of the edginess comes from our director Glenn Casale’s reinterpretation of some of the action. This makes a much more poetic stage picture than to just walk offstage as in past productions.”

Well worth the ticket price of starting at $20, Camelot is a sight to be seen and heard, as is York’s interpretation; and let’s not forget how well he looks in tights, cape and a crown. Seeing the production just might fan those adolescent flames once again of your childhood crush on York. I know it did for me.

Camelot is running through April 8 at The 5th Avenue Theatre



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