Camelot comes to life
Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES. To see more photos of Camelot, click here.
The Biola theatre department and music conservatory have partnered together for a massive joint production assimilating orchestra, vocal performance and acting to create the musical drama of “Camelot,” which will run Feb. 6-8 and 13-15 in Lansing Recital Hall.
The Lerner and Loewe musical follows the main characters of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Lancelot and Mordred, combining the onstage talents of students from both departments to bring their stories to life.
BLENDING MUSIC WITH THEATER
“It’s new territory, so it’s really exciting, and I hope that we continue this sort of collaboration,” said freshman music and worship major Kaley Casenhiser, who plays the part of Guinevere. “I love theatre, I love storytelling. That’s my passion about music, is telling a story through music and connecting people to each other, and then accessing things within yourself. I find a collaboration to be really exciting and it’s been a joy to be a part of. We’ve all learned so much.”
Through the combination of music and theatre, the actors have discovered their characters’ personalities in a variety of ways and, with the help of director Kate Brandon, have developed stories for each person on stage.
“Kate helped each and every one of us develop an in-depth character, even the people who are in the ensemble. Everybody has a story, and I think that’s just wonderful,” said junior vocal performance major Jonathan Medina, who plays Mordred. “With Mordred, he’s much more than just the “bad guy”, at least in my perspective. He’s misunderstood, he’s mischievous at heart, but he’s the son of a witch queen, so what are you going to do?”
Discovering the characters’ motives for their actions provided the cast with a foundation for developing the characters onstage with Brandon’s direction.
“She has a fresh perspective every day, noticing new things. Working with her has really helped draw out these characters,” senior theatre major Brandon Wetmore, playing the part of Lancelot, said.
BRINGING CHARACTERS TO LIFE
This development allowed the cast to portray more complex characters onstage.
“Mordred’s motives are a desire for love, because he can’t find it anywhere, no matter where he looks. He comes from a home of neglect — and witchcraft — so he’s damaged, just like anybody else is. He’s damaged and then he uses his wits to play it off,” Medina said.
Wetmore hopes that this intensive character development helps audience members to find the characters relatable. “Camelot” addresses several different situations, which Wetmore hopes will let students think deeper.
“It’s got some difficult themes to deal with — there’s infidelity, there’s pride, there’s expectations versus reality. I hope that people will wrestle with what they would do if they were in that situation and how they would feel,” Wetmore said.
The partnership between the departments has also allowed both theatre and music majors to share their unique insights, styles and talents with each other. Medina expressed that as a vocal performance major, he has enjoyed the different aspects of performing theatrically as well as musically.
“When you’re just singing choir music, you’re expressing yourself, but you’re very still and you’re blending in with the people around you. The wonderful thing about a musical, sometimes it’s not about sounding the prettiest, certainly not with Mordred,” Medina said. “I love the idea of being able to act and put my own spin on a song. It’s liberating, I think.”
TELLING THE STORY
With this range of expression, the cast members have also developed their characters as they grow and change throughout the musical. As the story spans many years of the characters’ lives, several events occur that change the course of the musical. Junior music performance major Joshua Peter Alarcon, who portrays Arthur, noted the relatable nature of Arthur’s growth throughout the story.
“He’s an interesting character because you really get to see him grow and change, definitely as one of the bigger characters changing throughout the story,” Alarcon said. “The way I see him, his main focus is just trying to make everyone happy. He really does try his best to combat all these things that are evil. There is a point when he does kind of break down, but he still finds enough strength to keep fighting for what is good, and I really love that.”
With opening night approaching, the cast hopes to see students come away thinking more deeply about the characters and their situations, including how they can relate to the Biola community.
“I hope they pick up on that kind of aspect, that Arthur’s giving out. To just keep going. I hope along with that, they see that despite everything, there is a way, there is always hope at the end,” Alarcon said.