It would be unfair to expect Beef & Boards' production of "Camelot" to save the famed musical's lumbering second act. Or to offer the sumptuous scenery and costumes that are sometimes used to make up for the show's deficits. Or, for that matter, to offer the kind of stars turns that launched the show in its original Broadway run.
But the professional dinner theater nonetheless delivers an engaging, entertaining production of the Lerner-and-Loewe chestnut that effectively eleminates the terrible memory of the train-wreck tour with Michael York that played Clowes Hall a few seasons back (Sorry to bring that one up).
Douglas E. Stark's troll-like playing of the reluctant King who rises to his office helps considerably. It's understandable why he would be on-edge about his blind-date marriage to the lovely young Guenevere. And his desire to do something good while in office gives us a flawed King we can relate to and respect.
Tony Lawson, as Lancelot, offers just the right contrast at his corner of the romantic triangle. He nails the humor and the songs of a knight would could just be a bore while giving a clear portrait of a guy pulled out of his shell of perfection by his passion for the Queen (who happens to be his best pal's wife). Krista Severeid is in great voice as Guinevere and, scene by scene, is fine. But her internal struggles and developing maturity aren't as evidence as they could be.
The supporting cast is uniformly solid, with Jeff Stockberger standing out. He does fine with the brutal task of handling Merlyn's early monologues, but shines brighter as the hilariously distracted King Pellinore...even when working with an onstage canine companion (and a big one at that).
The sets, costumes and lighting are all appropriate for the size of the stage. And the orchestra played what is now considered a collection of Broadway classics without letting its small size be a distraction. The sound, as usual at B&B, was near ideal.
Side note: A guest I took to the theater was experiencing Beef & Boards for the first time. was inquiring about a season subscription during intermission. I'm happy to have made the introduction.
"Camelot" runs through Oct. 10. Details here.