‘Not Your Typical Camelot’: MCT Artistic Director Gives New Slant to an Old Classic

By BRIAN D’AMBROSIO, Media Relations Coordinator at MCT

MCT Artistic Director Joseph Martinez comes with a robust résumé.

During his career, Martinez has directed more than 100 productions, including The Drowsy Chaperone, It’s a Wonderful Life, Anything Goes, How to Succeed…, Kiss Me Kate, Little Shop of Horrors, Man of La Mancha, A Christmas Carol, Miss Saigon, Forever Plaid, and Footloose.

His credits at MCT include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Blood Brothers, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Martinez’s previous experience also includes his working with community theatre groups at US Air Force bases in Korea and Japan.

In October, he gets his first crack at directing Camelot. Bringing the 1,000-year-old legend of King Arthur to the Missoula Community Theatre provides Martinez with a fresh set of creative circumstances.

“I was involved in a production of Camelot 25 years ago,” says Martinez. “I remember my wig and one scene from the show – not much else. I’ve never approached Camelot as a director, so this is a thrill for me.”

While there are countless variations of Camelot, the basic narrative is the same: love, mystery, magic, conspiracy, and vengeance. The musically-lush classic evokes enough swashbuckling excitement to keep one engrossed. For lovers of romance, Camelot has it all: a fine-looking English princess swept off her feet by a bashful, yet passionate bachelor king; a zealous French knight, torn between devotion to his feudal cause; and a reciprocated desire for the king’s wife.

MCT's Artistic Director, Joe Martinez

MCT’s Artistic Director, JoeMartinez.

MCT staff chose the production because they wanted to produce something familiar and popular, a title people would easily recognize. “We haven’t done Camelot at MCT since 1986,” says Martinez. “We are looking forward to putting our own personality into it.”

Many people have a preconceived idea of Camelot or envision the movie when they hear the name. Martinez hopes to distance MCT’s production from some of those fixed sentiments.

“When people hear Camelot,” says Martinez, “they think of King Arthur’s striving for beauty and equality. Our Camelot is much more about the ideals of those pursuits. We want to make them more real. There are so many elements within that make it real and not fairy tale. I’d like to push Camelot into the realm of more reality.”

One of the common misperceptions about Camelot is that it is all swords and serious subject matter. While obviously not a cheery fairy tale, the tale’s heavy, dour themes are a bit overstated.

Camelot is actually quite humorous,” says Martinez. “I’d like to bring some of that humor out.”

MCT performances of Camelot in Missoula will run October 19-21 and 24-28.

MCT performances of Camelot in Missoula will run October 19-21 and24-28.

Ultimately, under the direction of Martinez, MCT’s Camelot intends to draw out the story’s humanistic sides and prompt people to think about and recognize subjects generally not associated with the epic. That is not to suggest that its gritty mien will in anyway be altered.

“Medieval times weren’t pretty,” says Martinez. “In fact, I told the women at the first rehearsal that they couldn’t wear makeup during the performance. Those times weren’t about looking pretty. They were about surviving.”

“Community theatre is a huge time commitment,” says Martinez. “Generally, there is an eight-week rehearsal commitment and a two-week performance commitment. Essentially, ten weeks of one’s life are spent volunteering to be part of a production. Part of my job is to figure out what shows people want to be involved in and come to. Audiences will quickly realize that they are not seeing their father’s Camelot. We have a new, clever spin ready.”

Camelot opens at The Missoula Community Theatre on October 19. For tickets or more information, call the MCT Box Office at (406) 728-7529 or visit the MCT website.

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Read more of Brian’s stories about the fascinating places and personalities that shape Western Montana in his blog archive.

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Missoula writer Brian D'Ambrosio, his dog, and a beautiful view.

Brian D’Ambrosio is a Missoula writer, editor, instructor, and media consultant. D’Ambrosio’s recent articles have been published in local, regional, and national publications, including High Country News, USA Today, Wisconsin Trails, Bark Magazine, Montana Magazine, and Backpacker Magazine. His latest book about legendary vigilante screen actor Charles Bronson, Menacing Face Worth Millions, A Life of Charles Bronson, is available for purchase on Kindle. He is also the author of Montana Summer: 101 Great Adventures in Big Sky Country. It’s available now for $2.00 as an eBook on Smashwords.