Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Now that we're back at the house, I have all my DVDs available to me (we can't travel with them all), so I've been indulging.

I love musical theater, I love Lerner and Loewe. And most of all, I love Camelot.

A bit of history here. When I was a freshman in high school, I had an English teacher (I'm embarrassed that I can't remember her name, because I can still see her face). Anyway, every other Friday we would have theater day. She had typed out all of the lyrics to the songs of a particular musical, copied them on a mimeograph machine (remember those?) and we'd sit there and listen to the record, and read along with the lyrics. I loved it so much, I made sure I had her again in my sophomore year.

This was my first introduction to musical theater, and how wonderful it was. I wonder if any teacher would do that today? It certainly enlarged my young horizons and started a lifelong love of musical theater,

Especially Camelot.

I remember the very first time I heard that music. The sonorous tones of Richard Burton, the amazing range of Julie Andrews and the rich baritone of Robert Goulet.

It set me soaring. It made me fall in love. Then it broke my heart. I was in tears.

And it still has that effect.

Undoubtedly, the music from the original Broadway production is the best, it really can't be beat. But then there's the 1967 film of the play.

Hmmm, I remember thinking, can Vanessa Redgrave sing? For that matter who is this Franco Nero guy (I already had a firm grasp on Richard Harris). So I went to see it with some trepidation but high hopes.

I remember that I was horribly disappointed with the selection of Guinevere, since I had the lilting tones of Julie Andrews so firmly entrenched in my mind. So I went home and put on my copy of the Broadway soundtrack, convinced that it was the better choice,

And musically, it still is, but I have to admit that over the years I've softened for the film version.

Part of it is that I still love the music, but mainly, I find myself drawn into the film because the whole thing is just so gorgeous. The sets, the incredibly sumptuous costumes, the rich score. And yes, Vanessa Redgrave is also gorgeous. So is Richard Harris (even if he is a bit heavy on the eye makeup, hey, I forgive him). And Franco Nero is truly one of the great beauties of the screen. Apparently, Redgrave and Nero were falling in love in real life during the filming, and that certainly transfers to the screen.

But in the end, it's the story that grabs me. They meet. They fall in love. They get married (in a beautiful candlelit scene). They have wonderful plans to change the world. Their sphere expands with the entry of new people. Then their world comes crashing down. It's just amazingly beautiful, happy, sad, loving and tragic, all at the same time.

I really love it, can you tell?

As a side note, we recently saw a film called Letters to Juliet. It also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. The story's a bit trite, but they're both marvelous in their roles.

It seems that after some time together in the 1960s (after filming Camelot) they went their separate ways. Then, in 1996, their affair rekindled and one year later, they got married. And they're still happy to this day.

So some fairy tales do come true. I love the idea of Lancelot and Guinevere living happily ever after.

But I still feel really bad about Arthur.

No comments: