From ‘Camelot’ to ‘Company’ — What a difference 10 years makes

By on May 15, 2019

The cast of Susquehanna Stage Company’s current offering, “Company,” takes a break at the Marietta Center for the Arts. They are (front) Josh Schwartz; (row two, left to right) Kent and Amy Gable; (row three, l-r) Layne Zeiner and Deb Good-Zeiner; (row four, l-r) Cara and Kevin Ditzler, Jordyn McCready and Asher Johnson.

 

It was a two-show weekend, and I was lucky to be able to take in a pair of shows that I’d never seen before. On Friday, May 10, I enjoyed “Company,” presented by Susquehanna Stage Company at the Marietta Center for the Arts. On Mother’s Day, fittingly, I watched a show with my son: “Camelot” at Dutch Apple.

‘Company’

“Company” is a 1970 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. The original production was nominated for a record-setting 14 Tony Awards and won six. It’s easy to see why.

The show explores controversial subjects: drug use, infidelity, homosexuality, and polyamory, to name a few. It pulls no punches and makes no apologies. It’s not a show for children.

“Company” tells the tale of 35-year-old bachelor, Bobby. He both craves and fears marriage, largely based on his experiences with his best friends — five couples he spends time with regularly. He finds himself unable to settle down, or even choose between the three women he’s dating. The ending itself leaves viewers with more questions than answers… which I loved.

The story is not linear, and jumps from vignette to vignette. The music is memorable. Those songs that you can’t remember what show they came from? Yeah, they came from “Company” — “Another 100 People (Just Got off of the Train),” “Getting Married Today,” “Barcelona,” and “The Ladies Who Lunch” are among them.

Standout performances came from Beth Gable, as neurotic self-doubter, Amy; Joshua Schwartz, a newcomer to SSC, as headliner Bobby; and Ali Fleming, as Marta. Fleming burst into the local theater scene as Tracy Turnblad in EPAC’s “Hairspray” a couple years back. A vocal powerhouse, she’s so much fun to watch on-stage. And the vintage costumes were perfect.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the SSC production of “Company” is the casting. Director Jim Johnson chose five real-life couples to play the pairs in the cast. This added incredible established chemistry to the production.

Susquehanna Stage Co’s. next show, “Evita,” will coincide with the opening of their new, larger performance venue, the thEATER, named for The Eater Foundation, who provided Marietta Center for the Arts with a generous grant. “Evita” opens July 19.

But, until then, you still have one more weekend in which to to check out “Company.” Very affordable tickets — and there isn’t a bad seat in the house — can be purchased at susqhehannastagecompany.com.

Benjamin Neumayer as King Arthur and Catherine Calloway as Guenevere perform in “Camelot” at Dutch Apple. (LNP file photos)

‘Camelot’

I was forced to read T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” in high school. But that wasn’t a bad thing. I loved it — chivalrous knights, ladies-in-waiting, glorious quests, pageantry…and the drama. It was all part of Dutch Apple’s 253rd production.

“Camelot” is a musical by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music). It is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from White’s novel. The original 1960 production won four Tony Awards.

The original cast album was America’s top-selling LP for 60 weeks. Memorable tunes include “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “I Loved You Once in Silence,” and “Camelot.”

The costuming was amazing, as I’ve come to expect from John P. White. The lighting talents of Chris McCleary are always exemplary; I especially loved his use of firelight in the production. I was especially pleased with the quality of sound during the show. Maybe I’m getting old, but I often have trouble hearing dialogue, even when every performer is wearing a lavaliere headset microphone. Not at this show; I heard every word, and that made me very happy.

At the center of the plot of “Camelot” is the infamous love triangle between King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, and Sir Lancelot Du Lac, portrayed in the musical by Benjamin Neumayer, Catherine Calloway, and Thomas Henke, respectively. All three were incredible vocally, and riveting to watch. Dale Given, a veteran character actor, who played the role of both Merlyn and King Pellinore, added levity and comic relief to a show that was surprisingly dark as it drew to a close.

Although “Camelot” was written only 10 years prior to “Company,” it feels like it was crafted in another lifetime. It’s an old school musical, and more dialogue heavy than most. It’s clean, family-friendly, and lavishly done. If you need to escape, “Camelot” will transport you there.

With daytime and evening shows through June 22, there’s still plenty of time left to see “Camelot” at Dutch Apple on Centerville Road, Lancaster, and partake of the fabulous all-you-can-eat buffet. “Camelot” even comes with themed cocktails. Purchase tickets at dutchapple.com.

Melissa Hunnefield regularly reviews theater productions in Lancaster County and beyond. She welcomes your feedback at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

More photos from Camelot

Benjamin Neumayer as King Arthur and Catherine Calloway as Guinevere perform in Camelot at Dutch Apple on Monday, May 6, 2019.

Catherine Calloway as Guinevere and Benjamin Neumayer as King Arthur, perform in Camelot at Dutch Apple on Monday, May 6, 2019.

Benjamin Neumayer as King Arthur, performs in Camelot at Dutch Apple on Monday, May 6, 2019.

Benjamin Neumayer as King Arthur, performs in Camelot at Dutch Apple on Monday, May 6, 2019.

Benjamin Neumayer as King Arthur, Catherine Calloway as Guinevere and Thomas Henke as Sir Lancelot, perform in Camelot at Dutch Apple on Monday, May 6, 2019.

 

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