Camelot

Definition

Theater

  • A musical about King Arthur's Court by Alan Jay Lerner andFrederick Loewe. It was first produced on Broadway in 1960 with RichardBurton, who won a Tony Award, as King Arthur, and Julie Andrewsas Guenevere. It opened in London's Drury Lane Theatre in 1964.

    The story begins with the young Arthur tumbling out of a treeonto Guenevere, the girl who has been chosen as his queen. They fallin love. Some years later Arthur dreams up the idea of the Round Tableand his motto of 'Might for Right'. All goes well until the self-righteousFrench knight Lancelot du Lac falls in love with the queen. Arthuris imprisoned for a night by the fairy Morgan le Fey, leaving Guenevereand Lancelot alone. They compromise themselves and Arthur reluctantlysentences Guenevere to be burned at the stake, in accordance withthe law. Lancelot rescues her from this grisly fate but slays a numberof knights doing so. Nevertheless, when Arthur meets Lancelot on thebattlefield, they embrace. Lancelot leaves and Guenevere departs fora nunnery. Arthur then meets a young boy, Tom of Warwick, and urgeshim to spread the word about the glory that had been Camelot.

    The songs (music by Loewe, lyrics by Lerner) include 'In Camelot','Where Are the Simple Joys of Maidenhood', 'If Ever I Should LeaveYou', 'I Loved You Once in Silence', and 'What Do the Simple FolkDo?'.

    The name 'Camelot' was applied retrospectively to the administration(1961 - 63) of US President John F. Kennedy, whose glamorous imageand youthful vigour had briefly inspired hopes of a golden age inAmerica's history. At the time of Kennedy's inauguration, the Lerner - Loewemusical had recently opened on Broadway. Shortly after Kennedy's assassination,his widow told an interviewer that the president had particularlyliked the title song:

    Once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
    Called Camelot...
    Don't let it be forgot
    That once there was a spot
    For one brief shining moment that was known
    As Camelot.
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