There were many bright shining moments for Camelot Theatre in 2017, and there look to be a good many more in the coming year.
Camelot launched its 2017 season with "Spotlight on Billy Joel," a new entry into its popular and always packed "Spotlight On" series. The show was packed with compelling classics from the Piano Man's songbook.
This was followed by "Calendar Girls," a 2003 British play based on the film of the same name. The cast was led by Presila Quinby, a Rogue Valley favorite who has worked on Broadway and is a union actor with a strong professional background on Broadway and elsewhere.
"Ghost, The Musical" was a highlight of the Camelot season with a star turn by one of Camelot's emerging talents, Courtney Crawford, who, along with Eoghan McDowell and others, gave a highly entertaining and moving performance as a young woman whose beloved reaches out to her from the great beyond.
In "Spotlight On the Day the Music Died," a group of talented musicians and actors came together to present a delicious ride into the music of the 1950s, with a special focus on Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the "Big Bopper." As Valens, Rigo Jimenez was particularly strong, with good support from his fellow actors.
Spring at Camelot gave us "The Foreigner," with Erny Rosales at his comic best and featuring Shirley Patton, who joined the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1958 and has long since been a fixture on regional stages.
"Spotlight on Peter, Paul, and Mary" was a showcase for the songs of that great trio, with a strong showing from Brianna Gowland in particular, in a show directed by Quinby.
Camelot's summer show was Monty Python's "Spamalot," easily the most amusing production of the year, with elaborate staging, hilarious, high-octane performances and an elaborate and fun set design.
Then came Gowland's opportunity to move into the director's chair in facilitating "The Fantasticks," a classic boy-meets-girl musical that was entertaining but also melancholic.
In late October, "All My Sons" by Arthur Miller served as the theater's most serious play of the season, with robust performances from Peter Alzado and Gwen Overland in particular.
The season is closing this weekend with the final performance of "Mary Poppins," a major crowd-pleaser that has sold out all performances and created a strong finish to the year for the theater.
The coming year will feature the classic Western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," Tony-award winning musical romp "Annie Get Your Gun," and the classic romantic comedy by Neil Simon set in Manhattan, "Barefoot In the Park."
Following on from there, Camelot will mount the drag queen spectacular, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," followed by a production of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" which will run out of the Camelot Conservatory, an incubator for young actors.
Larry L. King's "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" will be next, with Camelot likely showing its chops as a leading regional venue for saucy musicals.
Tom Stoppard's existentialist classic "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" will cool down the action in late October, and will be followed by "Oliver' as the 2018 Christmas feature, Lionel Bart's classic musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel, Oliver Twist.
Numerous "Spotlight On ..." performance events will be interspersed throughout the year, with music of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles to look forward to, among others.
The past year was exceptionally strong for Camelot Theatre, and it has been well reviewed as such, with this paper giving the thumbs up to all of the productions we reviewed, save for two. Acting, staging and direction have all been strong, and the general direction of the company as a whole has been compelling to watch.
We look forward to a successful and enjoyable 2018.
—Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.