Entertainment » Theatre

'Camelot,' Rejiggered :: A Chat with Jared Troilo

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday May 16, 2017

When David Lee -- the co-creator of the popular sitcom "Frasier" -- decided to pare down the classic stage musical "Camelot" by lyricist and book-writer Alan Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, he asked himself, "[W]hat... if it were to be done as a story told around a campfire?" The answer to that initial question, Lee writes in notes to the script for his version, is that once he took out everything except the narrative that tells the story of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot, he was left with a lean, tight tale that needed a total number of eight cast members: "One woman and seven men."

In case you're unfamiliar with the Arthurian legend (what? You never saw "Camelot?" You never even watched "Excalibur?" Or the new movie with Charlie Hunnam??), here's a brief primer. King Arthur -- Ed Hoopman in the new version, which is being produced at the Lyric Stager Company -- marries Guenevere (Martiza Bostic), who helps him envision and implement a new chivalric order, the Knights of the Round Table. When a young French knight names Lancelot (Jared Troilo) joins the ranks of the Knights, it spells trouble: Lancelot and Guenevere fall in love. They resist their mutual attraction as best they can (cue the love song "If Ever I Would Leave You,") but in the end they succumb to their desire -- and in doing so, play into the hands of the treacherous Mordred -- Arthur's son -- who schemes to usurp Arthur's throne out of revenge on his father. Suffice to say that, although this remains musical theater, things get operatic from there.

Jared Troilo, who plays Lancelot in this stripped-down version of the musical, is a popular presence in Boston's theater community, including at the Lyric, where in the Fall of 2015 he was part of the cast for another Lerner and Loewe musical, "My Fair Lady." Earlier this season, Troilo joined Kirsten Salpini at the Lyric for a production of the frenetic musical "Murder for Two" -- Salpini played "The Suspects" -- a whole bunch of them -- while Troilo kept busy as a young police officer trying to prove himself worthy of promotion. The show was a blur of song, dance, and silliness.

"Camelot" may rely less on high-speech japes, but with such a pared-back cast -- and all the songs intact -- it's going to be an energetic undertaking. EDGE caught up with Troilo recently to get his take on Lee's version of the beloved Lerner and Loewe classic.

EDGE: So, you are heading back to the Lyric Stage after having appeared there earlier this season in 'Murder for Two,' in which you acted, played piano, sang, and danced with only one other performer on stage, and yet the two of you created a whole musical theater experience. Even though this new adaptation of 'Camelot' uses fewer cast members than the original, I wonder if it feels like a cakewalk in comparison?

Jared Troilo: Ha! I think everything in life feels a little bit like a 'cakewalk' after 'Murder for Two.' But I'll also say that this version of 'Camelot' definitely presents its own challenges. People can't help but associate Robert Goulet with the role of 'Lancelot.' He was the first and the best. But I think this new adaptation of the show has given us all the freedom to create a new 'Camelot' that no one has ever seen before. We all threw out any pre-conceived notions we had of who these characters are and started fresh. So in that sense it feels like I'm creating an original role which is really exciting but also very challenging.

EDGE: You've been in a bunch of other highly regarded productions lately -- SpeakEasy Stage's 'Dogfight' and 'Significant Other,' 'My Fair Lady' a year or so ago at Lyric Stage, and just a couple of months ago you were in 'Billy Elliot' at Wheelock. Almost all of those are musicals -- I get the impression you prefer musicals to straight plays? If that's true, is there a reason you can point to for that preference?

Jared Troilo: I don't necessarily have a preference. It just happens that most of the work I've gotten has been in musicals. However, I have been trying to branch out more and challenge myself which is why I really enjoyed being a part of 'Significant Other' at Speakeasy Stage. There are some actors who prefer one over the other but honestly I'm just happy being a working actor in anything.

EDGE: Aside from it being a musical, what was the draw for you when it came to 'Camelot?'

Jared Troilo: I really loved the idea of taking one of the largest musicals ever (in terms cast, length, set, orchestra etc.) and fitting it onto The Lyric Stage. We did the same thing with 'My Fair Lady' and found it really gave us the chance to focus on smaller, intimate moments that often get lost in large productions. Plus the score is really incredible and to be able to sing 'If Ever I Would Leave You' for an audience every night is a real privilege.

EDGE: You're playing Lancelot opposite Ed Hoopman as Arthur and Maritza Bostic as Guenevere. What's the chemistry like between the three of you?

Jared Troilo: We're having a blast. Neither of us takes ourselves too seriously. We're three clowns playing three very serious roles. We're still working on the relationships between these three characters but personally it's a joy to work with these two actors who bring so much to the table. It's also important to note that neither of us fit the mold perfectly of who traditionally gets cast in these three roles. I'm a tenor playing 'Lancelot' which is almost unheard of. So it's been a lot of fun to discover these characters together.

EDGE: I've always been a little unsure what to think about Lancelot. He sleeps with the king's wife, but he's still a Knight of the Round Table, and still a hero -- we presume he's virtuous in all other respects. How do you see Lancelot, and understand these paradoxes about him?

Jared Troilo: He's tricky, and I'd be lying if I told you I've figured him out completely yet. I think Lancelot was raised to think he was destined for something important and has therefore devoted his entire life to his training and has shut the rest of the world out. So when he meets Guenevere, who's the first person to not only charm him but make him laugh and really think, he doesn't know how to deal with it. I think he's as virtuous as he can be but at the end of the day he's still a man who makes mistakes.

EDGE: Lancelot and Guenevere is a love story, obviously, but what's at the root of the friendship between Lancelot and Arthur? Are they allies? Rivals? Is it a bromance?

Jared Troilo: It's probably all of the above. I think the respect and love these two men have for each other is what makes this story interesting. Their relationship to each other is equally as important to them as their individual relationships with Guenevere. You could call it brotherly and even paternal at times.

EDGE:I notice there's another Troilo in the cast, Kira Troilo. Any relation?

Jared Troilo: Yes! My wife, Kira Troilo, is in the production as well. We don't get to do shows together very often so this has been a real treat.

EDGE: David Lee, the 'adapter' (or re-writer?) for this new version of 'Camelot,' says that when he took out everything 'that did not directly have to do with the Arthur/Guenevere/Lancelot triangle,' he 'was left with a clear, concise and still emotionally satisfying narrative for the three.' What do you suppose audiences will find to like about this new version, or to prefer over the original?

Jared Troilo: People will really enjoy how raw and real this version is. It's easy to get distracted by the spectacle and pageantry in the original 'Camelot' but with all that stuff taken out, you're left with a really interesting love story about three people trying to do the right thing. I really don't think people will miss much from the old version. Everything most people love about 'Camelot' is in our version including the score in its entirety.

EDGE: I understand Lee left all the songs in place (and a good thing, too, because to do otherwise would be a blasphemy!). Do you have particular favorites from the show's songs?

Jared Troilo: Obviously, 'If Ever I Would Leave You' is just an amazing piece of music. I also love 'I Loved You Once in Silence' and 'I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight.'

EDGE: 'Camelot' has come to have associations, in the U.S. anyway, with the promise that we now associate with the Kennedy administration. What about today? How should audiences understand the story through the lens of our current political reality?

Jared Troilo: I think they'll see how important democracy is and how easily it can be destroyed by corruption and/or scandal.

EDGE: Conversely, how might we understand our current political reality through the lens of 'Camelot?'

Jared Troilo: 'Camelot' is incredibly relevant to today's political climate. Arthur even says 'Not might IS right. Might FOR right.' I think Arthur reminds us that while strength is needed sometimes we also need to practice compassion. And let's be honest, compassion is something our country could use some more of.

EDGE: What might you have lined up for the summer and for next season?

Jared Troilo: We're smack in the middle of 'audition season' so nothing is officially lined up yet. But Boston theaters have some really incredible seasons planned and I really hope I get to be a part of them in some way.

"Camelot" runs May 19 - June 25 at the Lyric take Company of Boston. for tickets and more information, please go to http://www.lyricstage.com/productions/production.cfm?ID=121

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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