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This Camelot Boasts Younger Actors and Real Swords on Stage (Paramedics Standing By)

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The time of Camelot with all its passion starting with the love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot and Guenevere was also a time of epic battles, says director Richard Stafford.

So in this production of Camelot for Theatre Under the Stars, Stafford decided to employ real broadswords in the fight scenes on stage. He insists there's no problem either.

"It was a time of warriors and we want to really show that. We have a fight captain on the show. They rehearse every night before they go onstage and they're actors; they know how to move."

The other departure from the traditional staging of Camelot is that Stafford decided to go with younger actors than those typically seen in the classic tale of love, loss and high principles with music by Frederick Loewe and book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.

"We felt going into it that to bring the youthful energy and excitement of the story to the stage was an important element. We found people that we thought were really right for this, age-wise, temperament-wise, with a lot of enthusiasm."

Broadway veterans (but still young!) Robert Petkoff and Sean MacLaughlin are King Arthur and Knight Lancelot, while Margaret Loesser Robinson is Queen Guenevere.

Stafford, who began his artistic life as a dancer and then choreographer, says he's kept a dancer's eye to movement on stage as well, although promising he didn't overdo it.

"I just think if you see the possibility of dance, I think a lot of times it's underplayed in the show. It's certainly not a dance show, but I'm really using the dance. I'm really using that sense of movement. It's not like everyone in Camelot went to ballet school; it's nothing like that."

Camelot remains a classic because of "that triumph of good over evil," says Stafford. There's the complication of the love triangle. There's this Mordred character who has an evil heart. But there's hope for the future and that's what we see at the end." Camelot runs January 22 through February 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit the theater's website. $24 to $114.

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