by Tony Medley
One of the great joys of living
in Los Angeles is the opportunity to see great actors on stage. Another of
the great joys is the little known opportunity to see Hollywood Bowl
performances on the morning of the performance at a full dress rehearsal.
And it’s free!
This morning I read that there
was to be a one-time performance of Lerner & Lowe’s “Camelot” at the Bowl
tonight, which was sold out. I read it just in time to jump in my car and
get to the Bowl. I arrived shortly after the overture, but in time for
“What Do the Simple Folks Do.”
There were several hundred
others like me. We all were sitting in the boxes, which would cost $110
each tonight. Most of us had brought our lunches. Fortunately, it was an
overcast, cool morning, a wonderful day to sit and listen to some of the
greatest Broadway music ever written.
Richard Burton’s role as King
Arthur was played by non-singer Jeremy Irons. Unlike other roles specially
written for non-singers (like “My Fair Lady’s” Henry Higgins), Arthur’s
songs have a range of more than a few notes. But Irons, who rehearsed for
three weeks solid for this one-time performance, was more than adequate.
His acting was superb and his voice captured the plaintiveness of Arthur’s
The drop-dead star of the
performance was Broadway’s Tony-nominated Melissa Errico as Guinevere.
Unlike the movie’s Vanessa Redgrave, Errico is beautiful and her voice is
of operatic quality. Every song she sang had me wishing for encores. With
a voice the equal of Errico’s, James Barbour, also from Broadway was
What impressed me was that all
these people, the stars, the Hollywood Bowl orchestra, the dancers and the
rest of the cast were going through all this work for one single, solitary
performance! Think of all the work, all the beautiful costumes, all the
choreography that goes into putting on a performance of a Broadway
musical. All that work seems justified if it’s for many performances. But,
after tonight, all these people will go their separate ways. So sitting in
the Bowl, watching all these talented people working their hearts out
basically for the love of what they were doing was inspirational.
I never got to see Julie
Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet in “Camelot” on Broadway, but I
can’t imagine their performance being any better than what I saw this
morning. “Camelot” is a play that wasn’t particularly successful in terms
of running on Broadway. It was further damaged by the horrible movie that
was made of it, even if it did give Richard Harris a new career.
One of my dreams is for some
talented Hollywood producer to make Camelot into a film using people who
can actually sing and dance. Until then, I’ll have this morning’s
performance that will live in my mind along with my memories of the
stagings of “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Fair Lady,”
“Phantom of the Opera,” and others. I wish I could encourage everyone to
go see this, but by the time you read this it will undoubtedly be too
Sunday, August 14, 2005