Or perhaps not. The Arthurian tale seems to be one of those evergreen ones, that revises itself, renews its magic and repeats generation after generation.
I am particularly fond of the Camelot musical and especially the movie made from the same material. They’re not my top favourites (Mary Stewart’s Merlin series, starting with The Hollow Hills, is my #1 all-time favourite, although I have a few…).
Camelot, the musical by Lerner and Loewe, debuted on Broadway today in 1960, and starred Julie Andrews and Richard Burton – what a hell of a cast! It opened to lukewarm reviews, but went on to enjoy a good long run of 873 performances. It has been revised and re-run ever since.
Although it nearly didn’t make it to the stage at all. Loewe didn’t want to do another musical (he was, right then, being celebrated for My Fair Lady and didn’t think he could repeat his luck), Lerner’s wife left him during production and he had to take time off to recover. He was also hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer as the show debuted on Broadway.
When it toured in Toronto in a pre-season run to iron out the kinks, the first performance ran for four and a half hours! I would have been very interested to see that performance, to see what was edited out. Camelot is still a very long show – the movie runs for three hours, too.
I saw Camelot when it toured Australia, several years before I moved to Canada. I was very, very lucky because I got to see Richard Harris as Arthur. I generally like Richard Burton, but Arthur will always and forever be Richard Harris’ role, in my mind. Especially for the musical.