Camelot, Drury Lane Oakbrook. This once and future 1960 musical continues to impress with its swift storytelling, literate dialogue, and well-made score. "If Ever I Would Leave You" still feels inevitable, surprising us with its familiarity. And T.H. White's novel brings out the best in Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe; harking back to their 1947 hit Brigadoon, they turn a mythical romance into a potent love story. The love triangle linking idealistic King Arthur, dangerously romantic Guenevere, and opportunistic Lancelot is compassionately observed from all sides, as Arthur's bastard son Mordred shatters his father's dream of peace through chivalry.
This sturdy, straightforward staging by Ray Frewen (who also plays Arthur) never quite becomes as large as the legend. Frewen's stalwart monarch is eloquent, but at times his gestures and movement undermine his lines. Cory Goodrich's graceful Guenevere embodies "The Lusty Month of May" but shows inadequate anguish as she chooses between husband and lover. Brian Herriott takes the braggart Lancelot more seriously than Robert Goulet did in the film, which makes the tediously invincible trespasser a more sympathetic castle wrecker. But there's too little contrast with Frewen's equally Wagnerian Arthur. The fun comes from savoring David Lively's foxy King Pellinore and loathing Bart Philip Williams's Mordred, an illegitimate wretch who can hold his own with Shakespeare's devil spawn. The 18-member ensemble work overtime to be epic in James Zager's skillful choreography.