Jim Stanek in Camelot
(© AnnMarie Snyder)
Jim Stanek in Camelot
(© AnnMarie Snyder)
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1960 musical Camelot, now at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Long Island, is revived with remarkable frequency, but Alan Souza's current production has a rare spark of originality that makes it worth a visit, even if you've seen the show numerous times.

The familiar story focuses on the idealistic if socially awkward King Arthur (played with grace and theatrical aplomb by Jim Stanek), who longs to create a kingdom free of violence and war. Just as his dreams begin to come true, his goals are unraveled by the love affair between beloved Queen Guenevere (Kim Carson) and his best friend, Sir Lancelot (Jarid Faubel).

Carson's singing voice is beautifully light, reminiscent of tiny bells bumping in the wind. In addition, the actress brings a needed sense of humor to the role. Faubel plays the French knight with equal parts jocularism and honor.

David Benoit takes on the dual roles of Merlyn, King Arthur's mentor, and his friend King Pellinore, and his girth and his way with a one-liner both benefit the production. He also manages to share the stage with an adorable furry friend (as Pellinore's dopey dog), who steals the show in his one scene.

King Arthur's illegitimate and villainous son Mordred is taken on by Jeremy Morse. His slight flamboyance as he leads the ensemble in "Fie on Goodness," one of Camelot's best ditties, is well-suited to the part.

Choreographer Sidney Erik Wright introduces elements of ballet mixed with contemporary moves. Todd Ivins' unit scenic design is simple, a rolling hilltop with two poles left to be imagined as trees, and the minimal effects are counterpointed through the beautiful costumes chosen by Megan A. Moore.

In his own way, Lerner (who also wrote the book) describes the production best in Arthur's own words: "What we did will be remembered."