Arts & Entertainment

Love, betrayal take center stage in 'Camelot'

Camelot is a touching love story gone awry involving King Arthur, Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot.

The musical version of the story opened on Broadway in 1960 and ran for 873 performances, earning four Tony Awards.

That success spawned periodic revivals that sent the touring company on the road across the globe. Tri-City theater lovers will get their chance to see this memorable story when Camelot comes to the Toyota Center on March 3.

Many actors have played the key roles in Camelot over 50 years. The current company includes Mark Harapiak as King Arthur, Jayme Armstrong as Guenevere and Gabriel Burrafato as Lancelot.

Though this is a serious story of love and betrayal among three people who care deeply for each other, Harapiak is mischievous enough to exercise his Canadian good humor during the show by wandering off script from time to time and doing something to make his beloved queen laugh.

"Jayme brings it out in me," Harapiak said with a laugh in a phone interview this week. "Camelot can be quite wordy, a bit like Shakespeare, and can sometimes be challenging to keep fresh. Besides, it's fun to do, and it's fun to make Jayme giggle a little bit unexpectedly."

Harapiak, 45, grew up in Manitoba and has been performing in theater, TV and film since he was a young man.

"I started out (in show business) as a dancer, but dancers have a very small shelf life," he said. "Then I discovered I had some singing chops and since I have always liked to stretch myself, I began doing musicals in 1994."

Armstrong, a 22-year-old Canadian who grew up in Vancouver, said she and Harapiak have great chemistry on stage, which makes the love story more compelling.

"When it's just the two of us in a scene on stage, Mark will make some silly move or say something (not in the script) that will make me laugh," she said. "It truly does keep the show fresh and interesting."

Armstrong has been involved with theater since she was 6. She took third place in the Canadian reality TV show, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria, which pretty much focuses on people trying out for a role in the musical Sound of Music.

That exposure led to her to other touring companies for roles in Cabaret, Oklahoma!, Little Shop of Horrors, Oliver! and South Pacific, as well as in the Hollywood production of Ruthless! The Musical, which earned her the outstanding comedy performance award from LA Weekly.

Burrafato has performed in numerous national touring shows including Les Miserables, Evita and The King and I.

Camelot, a Jam Theatricals production, will have one performance at the Toyota Center starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $29.50 plus service fees and are on sale at www.ticketmaster.com or call 735-0500. Tickets also can be purchased at the box office, where there is no service charge.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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