CAMELOT (1960)

Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

Based on The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Music by Frederick Loewe

Production Staged by Moss Hart

Produced for records by Goddard Lieberson

Cast                  
Sir Dinadan John Cullum
Sir Lionel Bruce Yarnell
Merlyn David Hurst
Arthur Richard Burton
Guenevere Julie Andrews
Nimue Marjorie Smith
Lancelot Robert Goulet
Mordred Roddy McDowall
A Page Leland Mayforth
Squire Dap Michael Clarke-Laurence
Pellinore Robert Coote
Sir Sagramore James Gannon
Clarius Richard Kuch
Lady Anne Christina Gillespie
Lady Sybil Leesa Troy
A Knight Michael Kermoyan
A Knight Jack Dabdoub
Morgan Le Fey M'el Dowd
Tom Robin Stewart

CAMELOT opened on  Broadway December 3, 1960 at the Majestic Theater and ran for two years or 873 performances and then went on a two-year U.S.tour with Louis Hayward in the lead.  The libretto was based on the 1958 series of books published in one volume by T.H. White called THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING.  The first of the four books, dealing with the boyhood of King Arthur, THE SWORD IN THE STONE, had been purchased by the Disney Studios for an animated film and was unavailable to Lerner.   The show had a rough passage to Broadway:  Loewe had had a massive coronary in 1958 from which he was still recovering; Lerner was hospitalized with a burst ulcer for two weeks after CAMELOT's pre-Broadway Toronto premiere; as he was leaving the hospital, his room was given to director Moss Hart, who suffered a serious heart attack (he never completely recovered and died at age 57 on December 18, 1961).  Lerner took over as director at a time when the show was 4 1/2 hours long, against the wishes of Fritz Loewe but at the behest of Kitty Carlisle Hart who told him her husband Moss didn't want another director brought in.  More than half of the first act and most of the second (except for the last scene) were rewritten in an effort to pare down the running time.  The song BEFORE I GAZE AT YOU AGAIN was not given to Julie Andrews until two days before the first New York preview.  In the preface to the text of the play, Lerner credits the fact that the show weathered these and other trials to the professionalism of the cast, particularly citing Julie Andrews and Richard Burton.

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe first collaborated in 1942 on LIFE OF THE PARTY.  Prior to that Lerner (born August 31, 1918)  had written for two Harvard Hasty Pudding shows and hundreds of radio scripts.  Loewe was born in Vienna on June 10, 1901 where he was a prize winning pianist.  He emigrated to the U.S. in 1924 and worked as a cowboy, a professional boxer and a concert pianist. For their working partnership, Lerner would come up with a title, then Loewe would compose the melody and finally Lerner would set lyrics to it.  Loewe would improvise at the piano, until Lerner would say "That's it."  Sometimes he would compose a melody in a matter of hours; sometimes it took two or three days.  Lerner confessed to being "manic with excitement" when Loewe finished a piece of music.  Regardless of when Loewe completed a melody, Lerner would never start the lyric until early in the morning.  Loewe would never play the melody for anyone else until the lyric was written.  Anecdotes and quotes in this webpage are chiefly from THE STREET WHERE I LIVE, a 1978 memoir by Alan Jay Lerner about the creation of MY FAIR LADY, GIGI and CAMELOT.

Their first Broadway offering was WHAT'S UP (1943), followed by THE DAY BEFORE SPRING (1945) , BRIGADOON (1947) and PAINT YOUR WAGON (1951).  In addition they collaborated on the script for GIGI (1958) which went on to win 9 Oscars, including one for Lerner's screenplay and one for the title song.  Lerner had previously written the screenplay for ROYAL WEDDING (1951) and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951), for which he also won the Academy Award. Click here for Lerner's other screenwriting credits.  (Among his other song titles, I was surprised to learn he had written HOW COULD YOU BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAID I LOVE YOU WHEN YOU KNOW I'VE BEEN A LIAR ALL MY LIFE?, which I had always thought was an old vaudeville number but is actually from ROYAL WEDDING.)  After Loewe retired due to ill health, Lerner continued to work with other composers on such shows as ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER (1966 - Burton Lane), COCO (1969 - Andre Previn), LOLITA, MY LOVE (1971 - John Barry), 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE (1976 - Leonard Bernstein), CARMELINA (1979 - Burton Lane) and DANCE A LITTLE CLOSER (1983 - Charles Strouse).  He and Fritz Loewe were reunited for the stage version of GIGI (1973) and the film THE LITTLE PRINCE (1974).  Prior to CAMELOT, they collaborated on MY FAIR LADY (1956).  Lerner and Loewe received the Kennedy Center Award in 1985.  Alan J. Lerner died June 14, 1986 and Fritz Loewe on February 14, 1988.

Richard Burton won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical Production.  Julie Andrews was nominated but lost to Elizabeth Seal in IRMA LA DOUCE.  Franz Allers won the Tony for Best Conductor/Musical Director.  Oliver Smith won the Tony for Best Scenic Designer of a Musical.  Adrian and Tony Duquette won the Tony for Best Costumes.

CAMELOT opened in London on August 18, 1964 at the Drury Lane with Laurence Harvey, Elizabeth Larner, Barry Kent and Nicky Henson.  (Harvey had originally auditioned for the role of Lancelot in the Broadway version.)  This production ran for two years or 518 performances. In 1967 it was made into a film starring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave.

From somewhere (probably Lincoln Center's sale of duplicate materials from its theatrical collection) I acquired an October 1, 1962 Playbill with the following cast:

Sir Dinadan Robert Peterson
Sir Lionel Jack Dabdoub
Merlyn Louis Turenne
Arthur William Squire
Guenevere Janet Pavek
Nimue Mary Sue Berry
Lady Anne Adriana Keathley
Lancelot Robert Goulet
Mordred Christopher Cary
A Page Leland Mayforth
Dap Frank Bouley
Pellinore Byron Webster
Clarius Don Strong
Lady Sybil Leesa Troy
Lady Jane Judith Hastings
Sir Sagramore Robert Neukum
A Page Richard Mills
Herald Jerry Bowers
Sir Gwilliam George Ritner
Sir Castor Frank Bouley
Lady Catherine Virginia Allen
Morgan Le Fey Tani Seitz
Tom Royston Thomas

I finally got to see a revival of CAMELOT at Lincoln Center's State Theatre, where a first row seat for a Saturday performance on August 23, 1980 cost $25.  The cast for this production included:

Arthur Richard Burton
Sir Sagramore Andy McAvin
Merlyn James Valentine
Guenevere Christine Ebersole
Sir Dinadan William Parry
Nimue Jeanne Caryl
Lancelot Du Lac Richard Muenz
Mordred Robert Fox
Dap Robert Molnar
Friar Michael Fisher
Lady Anne Nora Brennan
Lady Sybil Deborah Magid
Sir Lionel William James
King Pellinore Paxton Whitehead
Horrid Bob
Sir Lionel's Square Davis Gaines
Sir Sagramore's Squire Herndon Lackey
Knights of the Investiture Ken Henley, Gary Jaketic, Jack Starkey
and Ronald Bennett Stratton
Tom Thor Fields

In documenting the original cast album (which was in the number one spot for over sixty weeks), I note two things.  First, the order of the musical numbers on the album is not the same as the order they appear in the text of the play.  Secondly, YOU MAY TAKE ME TO THE FAIR and FIE ON GOODNESS do not appear in the text of the play.  I checked my two Playbills and they don't appear there either.  CAMELOT received mixed reviews and, while it had a $2 million advance sale, it was not doing well early in its Broadway run.  Three months after it opened, Moss Hart, finally out of the Toronto hospital, returned to "fix" the show and during this time two songs were cut, which I believe were YOU MAY TAKE ME TO THE FAIR and FIE ON GOODNESS, although Lerner says only that one was sung by the ensemble and one by Julie.  CAMELOT also got a boost at this time by being featured on an edition Ed Sullivan's Sunday night variety TV show which was entirely devoted to Lerner and Loewe, where Bob Goulet sang IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU, Julie Andrews sang WHERE ARE THE SIMPLE JOYS OF MAIDENHOOD?, Richard Burton sang CAMELOT, and he and Julie did WHAT DO THE SIMPLE FOLK DO?, all in costume.  The show, which is really a musical tragedy, with a comedic first act and a sad, dramatic second act, got a further boost in the wake of the death of President Kennedy when it was revealed that the lyric of the reprise of the title song was a favorite of the late President and somehow summed up his thousand days in office:  "Don't let it be forgot, That once there was a spot, For one brief shining moment That was known as Camelot."

Ray Stanley in Australia has provided the following details about the Australian version of CAMELOT, which opened in Adelaide October 1963.  The cast included:

Arthur Paul Daneman
Guenevere Jacquelyn McKeever
Lancelot Du Lac Tom Larson
Mordred John Ewing
King Pellinore Desmond Walter-Ellis
Morgan Le Fey Bettina Welch

The Australian production was put on by J.C. Williamson.  However, they did not follow the usual course of duplicating the original Broadway sets and costumes.  Instead they restored YOU MAY TAKE ME TO THE FAIR and FIE ON GOODNESS and hired John Truscott to design the sets and costumes.  The production was such a success in Australia, that it was this version, the "Truscott version", not the Broadway version, that eventually was put on in London's West End.  It was Australia's most expensive musical to that date.  In addition to adding back the two songs, the young boy at the end, who is identified as Tom  in the libretto, was specifically identified as Thomas Malory, the author of MORTE D'ARTUR.  Directed by Raymond Westwell, the production used an apron stage with towered turrets at each side, plus an immense golden grill occasionally covering the stage during scene changes.  Naked flames, maypoles and an archery tower, not seen in the New York production, were also incorporated.  Scrims eliminated any front cloth.  FIE ON GOODNESS opened the second act, and choreographer Betty Pounder created a fantastic spider web ballet for the Morgan Le Fey sequence.   Of the cast, Daneman was English and went on to replace Laurence Harvey in the London West End production, Walter-Ellis was also from England and McKeever and Larson were Americans.

Writing in ANYTHING GOES (Oxford University Press 2013), Ethan Mordden says:  "The Matter of Arthur, as it is called, has inspired so many retellings because it collects so many of the constituent parts of Western mythology--the magical wound, the sorcerer-mentor, the holy quest, the death of a king as the death of an entire people. ... CAMELOT's was a big score ... However, the cultural hegemony of the Big Broadway cast album, at its height in 1960 ... meant that most show scores would be heard repeatedly more or less in their original theatre context outside the theatre, at home.  This affected composition, because reprises based on not dramatic necessity but a wish to popularize a melody were no longer required.  ... Conversely, Lerner and Loewe could waste one of their best numbers, the diaphanous "Follow Me," in plot action and underscored dialogue, knowing that Columbia's Goddard Lieberson would record it with all the talking deleted, as a purely musical experience."

"CAMELOT was a big show in every way.  ... In 1960, ... Richard Burton spit out Arthur's lines as a man struck by lightning.  Shocking as it sounds, his Arthur was even better than his Hamlet.  Andrews and Goulet, too, were excellent. ... Revivals cartoon the piece; it is now customary to play the villain, Arthur's bastard son, Mordred, as a Bwa-ha-ha! Snidely Whiplash, although in 1960 Roddy McDowall portrayed him as ascetic, quietly simmering with his evil plans, and thus all the more likely to seduce the Round Table knights away from Arthur's visionary prescriptions.


OVERTURE

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the of the original Broadway cast album.

As CAMELOT opens, Arthur is hiding in a tree as the carriage of his intended bride, Guenevere, approaches.  Merlyn calls him down to warn that he won't be around much longer.  Merlyn lives backwards in time and remembers the future as well as the past.  He is due to be bewitched by a nymph named Nimue.  Arthur is nervous about meeting his bride; it is an arranged marriage and they have never seen each other.  

I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from I WONDER WHAT THE KING IS DOING TONIGHT of the original Broadway cast album.

Arthur speculates on what his subjects must think of the upcoming nuptials:

I know what my people are thinking tonight,
As home through the shadows they wander.
Ev'ryone smiling in secret delight,
They stare at the castle and ponder.
Whenever the wind blows this way,
You can almost hear ev'ryone say:

I wonder what the King is doing tonight,
What merriment is the king pursuing tonight?
The candles at the Court, they never burn'd as bright.
I wonder what the King is up to tonight.
How goes the final hour
As he sees the bridal bower
Being legally and regally prepared?
Well, I'll tell you what the King is doing tonight:
He's scared!  He's scared!

You mean that a king who fought a dragon,
Whack'd him in two and fixed his wagon,
Goes to be wed in terror and distress?
Yes!

A warrior who's so calm in battle
Even his armor doesn't rattle,
Faces a woman petrified with fright?
Right!

You mean that appalling clamoring
That sounds like a blacksmith hammering
Is merely the banging of his royal knees?
Please!

You wonder what the King is wishing tonight . . .
He's wishing he were in Scotland fishing tonight.
What occupies his time while waiting for the bride?
He's searching high and low for some place to hide.

And oh, the expectation,
The sublime anticipation
He must feel about the wedding night to come!
Well, I'll tell you what the King is feeling tonight:
He's numb!  He shakes!
He quails!  He quakes!
And that's what the King is doing tonight.


Where Are the Simple Joys of Maidenhood?

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from WHERE ARE THE SIMPLE JOYS OF MAIDENHOOD? of the original Broadway cast album.  Click here for a video of Richard Burton and Julie Andrews performing this song on ED SULLIVAN.

Arthur hears someone coming and climbs back up the tree.  Guenevere rushes across the stage and stops under the tree.  She raises her eyes to heaven to pray:

St. Genevieve!  St. Genevieve!
It's Guenevere.   Remember me?
St. Genevieve!  St. Genevieve!
I'm over here beneath this tree.
You know how faithful and devout I am.
You must admit I've always been a lamb.
But Genevieve, St. Genevieve,
I won't obey you any more!
You've gone a bit too far.
I won't be bid and bargain'd for
Like beads at a bazaar.

St. Genevieve, I've run away,
Eluded them and fled;
And from now on I intend to pray
To someone else instead.

Oh, Genevieve, St. Genevieve,
Where were you when my youth was sold?
Dear Genevieve, sweet Genevieve,
Shan't I be young before I'm old?

Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?
Where are all those adoring, daring boys?
Where's the knight pining so for me
He leaps to death in woe for me?
Oh, where are a maiden's simple joys?

Shan't I have the normal life a maiden should?
Shall I never be rescued in the wood?
Shall two knights never tilt for me
And let their blood be spilt for me?
Oh, where are the simple joys of maidenhood?

Shall I not be on a pedestal,
Worshiped and competed for?
Not be carried off, or better still,
Cause a little war?

Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?
Are these sweet, gentle pleasures gone for good?
Shall a feud not begin for me?
Shall kith not kill their kin for me?
Oh, where are the trivial joys . . .?
Harmless, convivial joys . . .?
Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?


Camelot

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from CAMELOT of the original Broadway cast album.

The limb on which Arthur has been hiding breaks and he falls to the ground, frightening Guenevere.  When Arthur protests he has no designs on her, she is insulted.  Arthur apologizes and wishes for Merlyn's help, explaining how Merlyn lives backwards and doesn't age but youthens.  Guenevere is unable to return to her own castle and not keen to go on to Camelot; she wants to run away from her responsibilities.  Arthur tries to explain what a wonderful place Camelot is:

It's true!  It's true!  The crown has made it clear:
The climate must be perfect all the year.

A law was made a distant moon ago here,
July and August cannot be too hot;
And there's a legal limit to the snow here
In Camelot.

The winter is forbidden till December,
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order summer lingers through September
In Camelot.

Camelot! Camelot!
I know it sounds a bit bizarre;
But in Camelot, Camelot
That's how conditions are.

The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happ'ly-ever aftering than here
In Camelot.

Camelot! Camelot!
I know it gives a person pause
But in Camelot, Camelot
Those are the legal laws.

The snow may never slush upon the hillside.
By nine p.m. the moonlight must appear.
In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happ'ly-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.

The courtiers run up and Arthur is revealed as the King, to Guenevere's amazement.  He explains how he became the king by pulling a sword out of an anvil.  He's never wanted to be King until now when he first saw Guenevere.  He offers to return Guenevere to her father, but she has been charmed by him and agrees to stay and be his Queen.


Follow Me

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  Just as Merlyn is gloating on Arthur's finally becoming ambitious, Nimue appears to lure him away:

Far from day, from from night . . .
Out of time, out of sight . . .
In between earth and sea
We shall bide
Follow me . . .
Dry the rain, warm the snow  . . .
Where the winds never go . . .
Follow me . . . follow me . . .  follow me . . .
To a cave by a sapphire shore
Where we'll walk through an em'rald door.
And for thousand of breathless evermores
My life you shall be.

Only you, only I,
World farewell, world goodbye,
To our home 'neath the sea,
We shall fly,
Follow me . . .

It's now five years later.  Arthur and Guenevere are talking about battles when Arthur gets the idea to create a new order of chivalry, to be used only for right, and invite all the knights to join, "Might for right" not "Might is right". Guenevere points out that there will be jealousy over seating all these knights at a table, so Arthur declares the table will have no head, a Round Table.


C'est Moi

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  The proclamation for Arthur's Knights of the Round Table attracts the infuriatingly perfect Lancelot from France:

Camelot!  Camelot!
In far off France I heard your call.
Camelot!  Camelot!
And here am I to give my all.
I know in my soul what you expect of me;
And all that and more I shall be!

A night of the table round should be invincible;
Succeed where a less fantastic man would fail;
Climb a wall no one else can climb;
Cleave a dragon in record time;
Swim a moat in a coat of heavy iron mail.
No matter the pain he ought to be unwinceable,
Impossible deeds should be his daily fare.
But where in the world
Is there in the world
A man so extraordinaire?

C'est moi!  C'est moi,
I'm forced to admit!
'Tis I, I humbly reply.
That mortal who
These marvels can do,
C'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I.
I've never lost
In battle or game.
I'm simply the best by far.
When swords are cross'd
'Tis always the same:
One blow and au revoir!
C'est moi!  C'est moi,
So admir'bly fit;
A French Prometheus unbound.
And here I stand with valor untold,
Exception'lly brave, amazingly bold,
To serve in the Table Ground!

The soul of a knight should be a thing remarkable:
His heart and his mind as pure as morning dew.
With a will and a self-restraint
That's the envy of ev'ry saint,
He could easily work a miracle or two!
To love and desire he ought to be unsparkable.
The ways of the flesh should offer no allure.
But where in the world
Is there in the world
A man so untouch'd and pure?

C'est moi.

C'est moi!  C'est moi,
I blush to disclose,
I'm far too noble to lie.
That man in whom
These qualities bloom,
C'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I!

I've never stray'd
From all I believe.
I'm bless'd with an iron will.
Had I been made
The partner of Eve,
We'd be in Eden still.
C'est moi!  C'est moi,
The angels have chose
To fight their battles below.
And here I stand as pure as a pray'r,
Incredibly clean, with virtue to spare,
The godliest man I know . . .!
C'est moi!

In his eagerness to reach Camelot, Lancelot has knocked out a knight who turns out to be Arthur.  Arthur remembers Merlyn speaking of Lancelot, predicting he will be the greatest knight to sit at Arthur's table.  Arthur is pleased because it means he has fulfilled his future by inventing the Round Table.


The Lusty Month of May

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  In a Castle garden the Queen and the courtiers are a-maying:

Guenevere: Tra la!  It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
Blissfully astray.

Tra la!  It's here!
That shocking time of year!
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear.

It's May!  It's May!
That gorgeous holiday;
When ev'ry maiden prays that her lad
Will be a cad!

It's mad!  It's gay!
A libelous display.
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating ev'rywhere?
Don't you know it's that dear forbidden fruit!
Tra la la la la.  That dear forbidden fruit!
Tra la la la la.

Knights and Ladies: Tra la la la la!  
Guenevere: Tra la la la la!
Knights and Ladies: Tra la la la la!  
Guenevere: Tra la!
Knights and Ladies: Tra la!
Guenevere: Tra la!
Knights and Ladies: Tra la!
Guenevere: Tra la la la la la la la la la la la
La la!  It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That darling month when ev'ryone throws
Self-control away.

It's time to do
A wretched thing or two.
And try to make each precious day
One you'll always rue.

It's May!  It's May!
The month of "yes, you may,"
The time for ev'ry frivolous whim,
Proper or "im".

It's wild!  It's gay!
A blot in ev'ry way.
The birds and the bees with all of their vast
Amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast

Guenevere, Knights and Ladies: The lusty month of May!
Guenevere: Tra la!  It's May!
The lusty month of May!
Knights and Ladies: That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
Blissfully astray.

Tra la!  It's here!
That shocking time of year!
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear.

It's May!  It's May!
The month of great dismay;

Guenevere: When all the world is brimming with fun,
Wholesome or "un".
Guenevere, Knights and Ladies: It's mad!  It's gay!
A libelous display.
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!


Then You May Take Me to the Fair

King Pellinore arrives; he's been on a quest for a beast for 18 years and is a bit stiff from sleeping in his armor.  Guenevere invites him to stay the night.  Arthur arrives and introduces Lancelot who immediately puts Guenevere's back up by being overbearing and pretentious.  Guenevere extracts a promise from three knights to challenge Lancelot in the next tournament.  Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.
Guenevere: Sir Lionel,
Do you recall the other night
That I distinctly said you might
Serve as my escort
At the next Town Fair?

Well, I'm afraid there's someone who
I must invite in place of you.
Someone who plainly is
Beyond compare.

That Frenchman's pow'r is more tremendous
Than I have e'er seen anywhere,
And when a man is that stupendous
He by right should take me to the Fair.

Lionel: Your Majesty, let me tilt with him and smite him.
Don't refuse me so abruptly, I implore.
Oh, give me the opportunity to fight him
And Gaul will be divided once more.
Guenevere: You will bash and thrash him?
Lionel: I'll smash and mash him!
Guenevere: You'll give him trouble?
Lionel: He will be rubble!
Guenevere: A mighty whack?
Lionel: His skull will crack!
Guenevere: Well,
Then you may take me to the Fair
If you do all the things you promise.
In fact, my heart would break
Should you not take me to the Fair.

Sir Sagramore,
I have some rather painful news
Relative to the subject who's
To be beside me at the
Next Court Ball.

You were the chosen one, I know,
But it's tradition it should go
To the unquestion'd
Champion in the hall.

And I'm convinced that splendid Frenchman
Can eas'ly conquer one and all;
And besting all our local henchman
He should sit beside me at the Ball.

Sagramore: I beg of you, Ma'am,
Withhold your invitation.
I swear to you this challenge will be met.
And when I have finished up the operation
I'll severe him to your Highness en brochette!
Guenevere: You'll pierce right through him?
Sagramore: I'll barbecue him!
Guenevere: A wicked thrust?
Sagramore: 'Twill be dust to dust!
Guenevere: From fore to aft?
Sagramore: He'll feel a draft!
Guenevere: Well, then, you may sit
By me at the Ball
If you demolish him in battle.
In fact, I know I'd cry
Were you not by me at the Ball

Sir Dinadan,
Didn't I promise that you may
Guide me to London on the day
That I go up to
Judge the Cattle Show?

As it is quite a nasty ride,
There must be someone at my side
Who'll be defending me
From beast and foe.

So, when I choose whom I prefer go
I take the strongest knight I know.
And young Du Lac seems strongest; ergo,
He should take me to the Cattle Show.

Dinadan: Your Majesty can't believe this blust'ring prattle!
Let him prove it with a sword or lance instead.
I promise  you when I'm done this gory battle
His shoulders will be lonesome for his head!
Guenevere: You'll disconnect him?
Dinadan: I'll vivisect him!
Guenevere: You'll open wide him?
Dinadan: I'll subdivide him!
Guenevere: Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear, dear,
Then you may guide me to the Show
If you can carry out your programme.
In fact, I'd grieve inside
Should you not guide me to the Show.
Knights: Milady, we shall put an end to
That Gallic bag of noise and nerve.
When we do all that we intend to
He'll be a plate of French hors d'oeuvres.
Guenevere: I do applaud your noble goals;
Now let us see if you achieve them.
And if you do then you will
Be the three
Who will go
To the Ball,
To the Show
And take me to the Fair!


How to Handle a Woman

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  Lancelot continues to annoy Guenevere; his latest claim is that he can perform miracles.  She has promised the three knights who challenged Lancelot they can carry her kerchief.  Arthur asks her to withdraw this honor, but she refuses.  Arthur cudgels his brain, trying to recall Merlyn's advice:

How to handle a woman?
There's a way, said the wise old man;
A way known by ev'ry woman
Since the whole rigmarole began.

Do I flatter her?  I begged him answer . . .
Do I threaten or cajole or plead?
Do I brood or play the gay romancer?
Said he, smiling:  No indeed.

How to handle a woman?
Mark me well, I will tell you, Sir:
The way to handle a woman
Is to love her . . . simply love her . . .
Merely love her . . . love her . . . love her.

At the joust Lancelot defeats Sir Dinadan and Sir Sagramore with one blow and kills Sir Lionel.  Lancelot prays over his body and Lionel returns to life.  Arthur decides Lancelot should be knighted that evening.


Before I Gaze At You Again

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  Despite his humorlessness and fanaticism, in the wake of his good looks, physical prowess and now miracle working, Guenevere has fallen in love with Lancelot.  But she still loves Arthur as well.  She sings her torment:

Before I gaze at you again
I'll need a time for tears.
Before I gaze at you again
Let hours turn to years.
I have so much
Forgetting to do
Before I try to gaze again at you.

Stay away until you cross my mind
Barely once a day.
Stay away until I wake and find
I can smile and say

That I shall gaze at you again
Without a blush or qualm,
My eyes will shine like new again,
My manner poised and calm.

No sign of fear,
Not even a sigh
And so till when we gaze again
Goodbye, goodbye.

Several knights are invested that evening, including Lancelot.  Afterwards, Arthur has a monologue in which he expresses his love for both Guenevere and Lancelot, all the while knowing they have fallen in love with each other.  Arthur is tempted to take revenge, but above all he longs for peace and civility and finally resolves that somehow all three will come through this difficult situation.


If Ever I Would Leave You

Act II opens several years later.  Lancelot and Guenevere are still tormented by their unfulfilled love for each other. For a 30-second soundbyte of Robert Goulet singing this on the ED SULLIVAN show, click here.   Lancelot sings:

If ever I would leave you
It wouldn't be in summer;
Seeing you in summer, I never would go.
Your hair streaked with sunlight . . .
Your lips red as flame . . .
Your face with a luster
That puts gold to shame.

But if I'd ever leave you,
How could it be in autumn.
How I'd leave in autumn, I never would know.
I've seen how you sparkle
When fall nips the air.
I know you in autumn
And I must be there.

And could I leave you running merrily through the snow?
Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire's glow?

If ever I would leave you,
How could it be in springtime,
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitch'd by you so?
Oh, no, not in springtime!
Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you at all.


The Seven Deadly Virtues

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  Lancelot and Guenevere both believe Arthur knows nothing of their mutual love.  Mordred, Arthur's illegitimate son, appears, a great shock to Arthur.  Mordred is a devious and unpleasant young man.  Arthur offers to have Mordred trained as a knight and Mordred appears to agree.  When Arthur leaves, Mordred sings his true feelings about the seven virtues of courage, purity, humility, diligence, charity, honesty and fidelity:

The seven deadly virtues,
Those ghastly little traps,
Oh, no, my Liege, they were not meant for me.
Those seven deadly virtues,
Were made for other chaps,
Who love a life of failure and ennui.

Take Courage!  Now there's a sport--
An invitation to the state of rigor mort!

And Purity!  A noble yen!
And very restful ev'ry now and then.

I find Humility means to be hurt;
It's not the earth the meek inherit; it's the dirt.

Honesty is fatal; it should be taboo.
Diligence?  A fate I would hate.
If Charity means giving, I give it to you,
And Fidelity is only for your mate.  Hah!

You'll never find a virtue
Unstatusing my quo,
Or making my Be-elzebubble burst.
Let others take the high road,
I will take the low;
I cannot wait to rush in
Where angels fear to go.
With all those seven deadly virtues,
Free and happy little me has not been cursed.


What Do the Simple Folk Do?

Mordred has been stirring up the Knights and generally trying to arrange things so he comes into his inheritance sooner rather than later.  Guenevere wishes she could stop being royalty for a little bit; she and Arthur try unsuccessfully to cheer each other up.  Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.
Guenevere: What do the simple folk do
To help them escape when they're blue?
The shepherd who is ailing,
The milkmaid who is glum,
The cobbler who is wailing
From nailing
His thumb?

When they're beset and besieged,
The folk not noblessely obliged . . .
However do they manage
To shed their weary lot?
Oh, what do simple folk do
We do not?

Arthur: I have been informed
By those who know them well,
They find relief in quite a clever way.
When they're sorely pressed,
They whistle for a spell;
And whistling seems to brighten up their day.
And that's what simple folk do;
So they say.  
Guenevere: They whistle?
Arthur: So they say.
Guenevere: What else do the simple folk do
To perk up the heart and get through?
The wee folk and the grown folk
Who wonder to and fro
Have ways known to their own folk
We throne folk
Don't know.

When all the doldrums begin,
What keeps each of them in his skin?
What ancient native custom
Provides the needed glow?
Oh, what do simple folk do?
Do you know?

Arthur: Once along the road
I came upon a lad
Singing in a voice three times his size.
When I asked him why,
He told me he was sad,
And singing always made his spirits rise.
And that's what simple folk do,
I surmise.
Guenevere: They sing?
Arthur: I surmise.
Guenevere and Arthur: Arise, my love!  Arise, my love!
Apollo's lighting the skies, my love.
The meadows shine
With columbine
And daffodils blossom away.

Hear Venus call
To one and all:
Come taste delight while you may.
The world is bright,
And all is right,
And life is merry and gay . . . !

Guenevere: What else do the simple folk do?
They must have a system or two.
They obviously outshine us
At turning tears to mirth;
Have tricks a royal highness
Is minus
From birth.

What then I wonder do they
To chase all the goblins away?
They have some tribal sorc'ry
You haven't mentioned yet;
Oh, what do simple folk do
To forget?

Arthur: Often I am told
They dance a fiery dance,
And whirl til they're completely uncontrolled
Soon the mind is blank,
And all are in a trance,
A vi'lent trance astounding to behold.
And that's what simple folk do,
So I'm told.
Guenevere: Dance, Arthur! Faster, my love!

What else do the simple folk do
To help them escape when they're blue?

Arthur: They sit around and wonder
What royal folk would do.
And that's what simple folk do.
Guenevere: Oh, no, really?
Arthur: I have it on the best authority.
Guenevere and Arthur: Yes, that's what simple folk do.


Fie on Goodness

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  The Knights, restive after years of peace under the Round Table, long for a bit of mayhem, after Mordred has stirred them up:

Fie on goodness, fie!
Fie on goodness, fie!

Eight years of kindness to your neighbor . . .
Making sure that the meek are treated well.
Eight years of philanthropic labor!
Derry down dell!
Gad, but it's hell!

Oh, fie on goodness, fie!
Fie, fie, fie . . .

It's been depressing all the way,
Derry down, derry down,
And getting glummer ev'ry day,
Derry down, derry down.
Ah but to burn a little town,
Or slay a dozen men . . .
Anything to laugh again . . .

Oh, fie on goodness, fie!
Fie, fie, fie, fie, fie!

When I think of the rollicking pleasures
That earlier filled my life . . .
Lolly lo, lolly lo.
Like the time I beheaded a man
Who was beating his naked wife,
Lolly lo, lolly lo.

I can still hear his widow say
Never moving from where she lay . . .
"Tell me, what can I do,
I beg, Sir, of you . . .
Your kindness to repay?"

Fie on goodness, fie!
Fie on goodness, fie!

Lechery and vice have been arrested (arrested!) . . .
Not a maiden is ever more in threat.
Virgins may wander unmolested (unmolested!)
Lolly to, let!  Gad, it's a sweat!

Oh, fie on goodness, fie!
Fie, fie, fie, fie. fie!

How we roared and brawled in Scotland (yea!)
Not a law was e'er obeyed (yea!)
And when wooin' called in Scotland, (yea!)
We'd grab any passing maid.

Ah, my heart is still in Scotland
Where the lassies woo'd the best . . .
On some bonnie hill in Scotland,
Stroking someone's bonnie . . . (breast).

Fie on Scotland, fie!
Fie on Scotland, fie!

No one repents for any sin now.
Ev'ry soul is immaculate and trim (immaculate!).
No one is covered with chagrin now,
Nonny no nim, Gad, but it's grim.

Oh, fie on goodness, fie!
Fie, fie, fie!

There's not a folly to deplore,
Derry down, derry down.
Confession Sunday is a bore,
Derry down, derry down.
Ah, but to spend a tortured ev'ning
Staring at the floor . . .
Guilty and alive once more.

Oh, fie on virtue, fie!
Fie on mercy, fie!
Fie on justice, fie on goodness,
Fie, fie, fie, fie, fie!


I Loved You Once in Silence

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.  Mordred finally succeeds in locating his magical aunt Morgan Le Fey.  By promising her candy, he gets her to agree to detain Arthur in the forest overnight.  While he's away, Lancelot comes to Guenevere's bedroom.  But the shadow of Arthur is with them even when he is not there.  Guenevere sings:

I loved you once in silence,
And mis'ry was all I knew.
Trying so to keep my love from showing,
All the while not knowing
You loved me too.

Yes, loved me in lonesome silence;
Your heart filled with dark despair . . .
Knowing love would flame in you forever,
And I'd never, never
Know the flame was there.

Then one day we cast away our secret longing;
The raging tide we held inside would hold no more.
The silence at last was broken!
We flung wide our prison door.
Ev'ry joyous word of love was spoken . . .!

And now there's twice as much grief,
Twice the strain for us;
Twice the despair,
Twice the pain for us
As we had known before.

The silence at last was broken!
We flung wide our prison door.
Ev'ry joyous word of love was spoken . . .
And after all had been said,
Here we are, my love,
Silent once more
And not far, my love . . .
From where we were before.

Mordred appears and accuses Lancelot and Guenevere of treason.  Faced with Arthur's Knights, Lancelot escapes out the window


Guenevere

As promised, Lancelot comes to Guenevere's rescue, much to Arthur's relief.  Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Oh, they found Guenevere
With her bold cavalier;
And as swords rang through the hall
Lance escaped them one and all

On a day, dark and drear,
Came to trial Guenevere.
Ruled the jury for her shame
She be sentenced to the flame.

Early dawn was the time
She would pay for her crime
Or would Lanc'lot reappear
Come and rescue Guenevere?

I'll wager the King himself is hoping he will return.
Why would he have chosen  five a.m. for the Queen to burn?
When the world is black and grey
What time would be more ideal
For Lanc'lot to come and steal
Guenevere?

As the dawn filled the sky,
On the day she would die,
There was wonder far and near:
Would the King burn Guenevere?

Then suddenly earth and sky were dazed by a pounding roar.
And suddenly through the dawn an army began to pour.
And lo!   Ahead the army, holding aloft his spear,
Came Lancelot to save his dear
Guenevere!

By the score fell the dead,
As the yard turned to red.
Countless numbers felt his spear
As he rescued Guenevere.

In that dawn, in that gloom,
More than love met its doom.
In the dying candles' gleam
Came the sundown of a dream.

Guenevere!  Guenevere!
In that dim, mournful year,
Saw the men she held most dear
Go to war for Guenevere.

Guenevere!  Guenevere!
Guenevere!  Guenevere!
Saw the men she held most dear
Go to war for Guenevere!
Guenevere!  Guenevere!  Guenevere!


Camelot (Reprise)

A week later Arthur's army is laying siege outside Lancelot's castle at Joyous Gard.  Arthur meets secretly with Lancelot and Guenevere.  They want to return and face up to justice for the sake of Arthur's Round Table, but he can't bear to have Guenevere burned.  The battle must go on.  Lancelot returns to his castle and Guenevere  goes off to a convent.

A young boy, inspired by tales of the Round Table, has stowed away on the boats and now stumbles into Arthur.  Arthur realizes that his principles might live on somehow if they are remembered as vividly as this boy recalls them.  He tells the boy not to fight but to grow old and keep alive the story of the Round Table.  Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Each evening from December to December
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.

Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story;
And tell it strong and clear if he has not:
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.

Camelot!  Camelot!
I know it gives a person pause.
But in Camelot!  Camelot!
Those were the legal laws.

Where once it never rained till after sundown;
By eight a.m. the morning fog had flown . . .
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot . . .

Pellinore enters and Arthur takes Excalibur from him and knights the boy, Sir Tom of Warwick, then Arthur and Pellinore go off to battle Lancelot's army.


All lyrics posted copyright 1960 Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe
Chappell & Co., Inc., Warner Bros. Publications U.S. Inc.

For rights to put on the show contact Tams Witmark.

Commentary by Judy Harris

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