Thursday, January 18, 2018
Stage

Richey Suncoast stages a delightful 'Camelot'

Review | Camelot

Whether you're a first-timer or have seen the musical Camelot a dozen times, the Richey Suncoast Theatre version playing weekends through March 23 holds surprises and delights.

Based on the legend of the fifth century Knights of the Round Table and its idealistic founder, King Arthur of England, it's a tale of love, betrayal and the eternal conflict between "might makes right" and "might for right," a philosophy as vexing today as it was 1,500 years ago. In Camelot, the starry-eyed Arthur hopes for a peaceful, loving world, but he's up against a society accustomed to crushing the perceived enemy to get its way.

The musical is filled with appealing characters and Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's hummable tunes, well done by music director Steve Schildbach's five-piece orchestra. Set designer Larry Shapiro's minimalist treatments let the audience concentrate on story and song instead of backgrounds and allows Marie Skelton's imaginative, multi-hued lighting to set the mood and her and Heather Clark's opulent costumes to set a noble tone.

Arguably most appealing is Richey Suncoast newcomer Vicky Stinnett, a beautiful mezzo soprano from Land O'Lakes who, as a radiant Queen Guenevere, enlivens every scene and mesmerizes with her pitch-perfect voice, expressive demeanor and winning grace. We can only hope that she becomes a Richey Suncoast regular, because she is a genuine talent who could enhance any production.

Stinnett is an excellent match for Bob Marcela's sincere, but hesitant, naive and unsophisticated King Arthur. Marcela's innocent look is precisely what the idealistic king would have at the outset, but the actor's bearing evolves throughout the play, even as Arthur himself comes to grips with cold reality. His metamorphosis is a joy to watch.

But this production has many splendid performances — comic virtuoso Bill Schommer as King Pellinore, the wayfaring pursuer of some magical beast that may or may not actually exist; Keith Surplus as a deliciously evil Mordred, Arthur's jealous, vengeful son from a youthful dalliance; Monica Underwood as a petulant Morgan Le Fey, a magician queen of an invisible castle who bends to Mordred's wicked wishes; Paul Mattes as the unforgiving Sir Dinadan; David Bergeron as the confident Sir Sagramore; and David Cruz as both Merlin and Sir Lionel.

A pleasant addition is David Bethards as Sir Lancelot, the arrogant, self-righteous Frenchman who eventually wins over his detractors, but wrecks Arthur's dreams. Bethards doesn't initially appear to cut such a figure, but he soon overcomes any doubts with his considerable acting skills, consistent French accent, fine voice and sincere bearing.

A lively ensemble completes the cast, all nicely coached by choreographer Amanda Witt.

Kudos to co-directors Linda Hougland and Keith Surplus, who guided this large, long (almost three hours) musical to such pleasant result.

Comments
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Updated: 12 hours ago
What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

RIVERDANCE AT 20: CIARA SEXTONShe’s a former world champion in Irish dance, and now Ciara Sexton, center, is leading Riverdance in Tampa. A lead dancer and soloist with the troupe, Sexton said she has felt comfortable touring the states."What really ...
Published: 01/17/18
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Review: Richey Suncoast’s I Hate Hamlet worth shouting about

Review: Richey Suncoast’s I Hate Hamlet worth shouting about

NEW PORT RICHEY — Many years ago I lived near New Orleans, and one of my favorite pastimes was to put my son in his stroller and saunter up and down the streets of the Vieux Carre.But Bourbon Street in the late afternoon was our favorite. Back then, ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

MIAMI — The idea seemed outlandish, maybe even impossible at the time: a one-man play about Miami’s infamous Cocaine Cowboys of the 1980s. Some 15 years ago, the Miami-raised Billy Corben was deep into research for what would become Coca...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/16/18
With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was ...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18
Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

If you’re already singing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack alone, why not meet like-minded folks and do it together?A Hamilton singalong goes down tonight at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa. Fans will gather to sing the entire — y...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

ST. PETERSBURGThe dancers kept moving, spinning, pausing for arabesques or stretches. Over most of a December afternoon at the Mirror Lake Studios, they rarely stopped, whether rehearsing specific routines or not.Choreographer Lauren Ree Slone also m...
Published: 01/11/18