Happy New Year, readers! I hope your 2013 began with a bang and continues to be a happy and healthy year for you all. Coming into the month of January has only meant one thing for me: Camelot. Oh how I love this show! Just when I was beginning to think I was the only true fan of the musical, my friend and TUTS’ employee, Christina Martinez expressed her admiration for the “musical that almost never was.” In fact, she spoke so passionately about the show that I asked her to share the story with my readers on how Camelot struggled in its early beginnings to become a full musical. Enjoy!
Hope for a New Year
It is a truth universally acknowledged within theatre that no matter the obstacles the show must go on. There is not a single production on Broadway that has not been faced with praise and failure. The artistic minds band together to plan for every outcome while clinging to the hope that the end result will be as beautifully loved by others as it has been by its creators. Yet is there ever a moment when a voice of reason must be heded that the obstacles are too great. I for one am thankful that if that voice does exist it remained silent during the tribulations faced in bringing Camelot to life.
Camelot, a story with its roots seeded in hope, was the final jewel within the crown of composer and lyricist team Alan Jay Lerner and Fredrick Loewe. This creative union having come off of the success of My Fair Lady five years earlier was eager to see success again. Yet I wonder if they had known the trails that lay before them if the production would have come to fruition. Loewe was recovering from a recent heart attack. Lerner was dealing with a turbulent marriage; his fourth wife Micheline Muselli Pozzo di Borgo, who demanded his undivided attention posed a great distraction to him and everyone else during the creative process. Micheline nearly destroyed the entire venture when she left Lerner taking their son with her. I cannot dislike her entirely, for without that desperate breaking point Lerner would never have written my favorite song “If Ever I Would Leave You.” And without that song Camelot would have not been complete.
The show opened in Toronto to kind reviews but admittedly the production needed work before it was Broadway worthy. I’m an avid theatre enthusiast but even I find it difficult to sit still until 12:25 am, which was the original final curtain time. The team worked tirelessly to rewrite the production, yet the show still ran long.
It seems creative genius' must suffer for art. Lerner suffered a bleeding ulcer and was hospitalized for a week leaving director Moss Hart in charge. That did not last long! As Lerner was being released, Hart was admitted for a heart attack. Hart was pushing for Lerner to take over the production; however, that idea was met with dismay by the cast, fearing it too much for any one man. That is where I believe hope prevailed. The production made it to Broadway. Through the eyes of Lerner, it was an artistic failure but for the audience it became an inspiration. You cannot leave the theatre after having your senses enhanced by such evocative words and music without feeling as though you’ve been awakened from a dream. In the spirit of this New Year, whatever your resolutions are, remember that hope and diligence are the keys to achieving them. We can all achieve our “one brief shining moment” if we take a page from Lerner and Loewe’s example. No matter the obstacles the show must go on!
- Christina Martinez
See the musical come to life at Theatre Under The Stars, January 22 - February 3, 2013!