The classic love triangle between Kind Arthur, Guenevere and Sir Lancelot comes alive at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse says it’s taking every precaution to ensure the safety of guests, staff and actors during the pandemic. This means the usual safety measures such as ensuring masks are worn and dining tables are at least six feet apart. (Candlelight’s large dinner theatre enables that.)

But it also means selecting plays and musicals that can be performed with a smaller cast. So while the theatre may regret that it can’t present big productions like Singing in the Rain or Cinderella — as they had hoped (both of which would require casts of over 30 actors) —  Candelight has come up with a nice option with Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot, directed by Pat Payne. It’s a small cast version with only eight actors (with one swing), each playing at least two roles throughout the performance.

But a small cast does not mean a small performance when Payne is directing.

A classic tale

Camelot tells the story of the legendary love triangle between King Arthur (Bob Hoppe), his wife Guenevere (Susanna Ballenski Houdesheldt) and Sir Lancelot (Scott Hurst Jr.) This tale starts after Arthur miraculously pulls the sword from the stone and becomes the king of England. We watch as King Arthur falls for Guenevere while she simply settles for him. During the song ‘The Simple Joys of Maidenhood,’ Ballenski Houdesheldt comically wonders what happened to suitors courting young maidens. “Shall I never be rescued in the woods?” or “Shall I not be on a pedestal, worshipped and competed for?”

King Arthur overhears her and promises her all of this and more.

As a married man, King Arthur becomes the king he feels England needs. Hoppe sings ‘Camelot’ in which the idea for the Knights of the Round Table is conceived and from then on, instead of fighting, things will be settled in different, more civil ways. Then King Arthur’s search for the purest of knights for his round table ensues. Enter handsome, strong Sir Lancelot.

Commence one of the world’s classic love triangles — with drastic consequences.

The stage is complete with a multilevel set differently accessed by a moving staircase, at times a tree under which Guenevere laments her paltry prospects, at times the steps within the castle in which King Arthur lives. Each level of the stage is used intentionally giving this small-cast version of Camelot a big-cast feel.

Indeed, never once did I feel that anything was missing because of this smaller cast. On the contrary, perhaps it is the small cast that allows for the attention to detail — the handful of beautiful gowns Guenevere dons throughout the production, the perfect chemistry between Sir Lancelot and Guenevere balanced ever so delicately with the clear love and friendship between Arthur and Lancelot and the obvious loyalty of the other knights of the round table to Arthur. It all combines to make this production a true success.