Theatre: Camelot

The original Broadway cast: Robert Goulet as Lancelot, Julie Andrews as Guinevere and Richard Burton as Arthur

Donít let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.

A 1960 musical by Lerner And Loewe, shortly after the success of My Fair Lady. It is an adaptation of T.H. White's The Once and Future King, following the legends of King Arthur.

At the start of the story, King Arthur is a young man, anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride, Guinevere, who shares a similar amount of anxiety. Hilarity Ensues for a short while before they are married, but Merlin is abducted by Nimue before he can warn Arthur of the perils of the future. King Arthur decides to write a new code of chivalry, "where violence is not strength, and mercy is not weakness," and forms the round table.

Then comes along Sir Lancelot, an enormous braggart. Nobody really likes him that much, until he wins the tournament and seems to bring a slain knight back from the dead. Guinevere and Lancelot fall in love, which Arthur becomes painfully aware of.

Then Mordred, Arthur's illegitimate son comes, with the intention of ruining his father. He turns the knights back to their barbaric ways, and exposes the affair between Guinevere and Lancelot, leaving Arthur no choice but to have her executed. Lancelot comes rushing in to rescue her, but it incites a war.

The musical is most heavily associated with the Kennedy Administration, as JFK was a fan of the show.

Later adapted in 1967 by Warner Bros. into a movie starring Richard Harris as Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere and Franco Nero as Lancelot.

For the 2011 television series produced by Starz and GK-TV, see here.

This work contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Sir Lancelot
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In White's works Lancelot is described as an ape. Here he has all the good looks of a conventional leading man.
  • Badass Baritone: Again, Sir Lancelot
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Guinevere prays for "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood," which includes a knight pining for her, her being competed for, and people starting a "little war" for her. She gets all she asks for, but at the cost of her marriage and Camelot itself.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Arthur tries to convince Mordred of this.
  • Being Good Sucks: Mordred convinces the knights of this in "Fie on Goodness."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arthur's Utopian dream is crushed, and he's about to head into a war that you know will result in a massacre if you've read the legends. But he's assured that at least what he and his men did will be remembered, as one young boy escapes the battlefield to tell the tale.
    • And in a literary Shout-Out the young boy, Thomas of Warwick, eventually becomes better known as Sir Thomas Malory, whose Morte D'Arthur is one of the best-known tellings of the Arthur legend ... and is also the basis for The Once and Future King.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Mordred
  • Cut Song: "Fie on Goodness" is cut from some productions. Another number, between Mordred and Morgan LeFey, is often cut. Nobody misses it.
  • Dark Reprise: Of the title song, towards the end. Though it's more bittersweet than dark.
  • Flashback: The re-worked version(taken from the film) has the entire show be a flashback from the perspective of King Arthur on the night before the final battle.
  • "I Am" Song: "C'est Moi."
  • Manipulative Bitch: Guinevere, who promises three different knights the honor of accompanying her to various events if they can defeat Lancelot at the tournament.
  • Might Makes Right: Discussed by Arthur. He comes to the conclusion that might for right is the best ideal to strive for.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Sir Lionel at the jousting.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Arthur explains that a standard for chivalry is a good idea because "that way, chivalry will have a standard."
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Sir Lancelot is this, to everyone's irritation.
  • Villain Song: "The Seven Deadly Virtues" and "Fie on Goodness"
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Mordred sings a song called "The Seven Deadly Virtues", saying that courage, purity, honesty, humility, diligence, fidelity and charity are "ghastly little traps" fit only for those more foolish than he.