Stories & Cast Interviews
Meet Magical Merlin, Martin VanTreuren!
Martin VanTreuren is featured as Merlin and King Pellinore in our production of CAMELOT. We caught up with him between performances:
Martin as Merlin (w Emily Brockway as Nimue) Martin as King Pellinore (w Clark Carmichael as Arthur)
I grew up in Hawthorne N.J. I fell in love with the theatre while I was in High School where we did many plays and musicals. Saw my first Broadway show (Promises, Promises) at that time and I was hooked. I then went on to study Theatre at Montclair State University and received a BA in Theatre. I moved to NYC right after College and got my first acting jobs in Summer Stock at The Thomaston Opera House in Ct. and Theatre by the Sea in R.I.
I think having the experience in High School to act in plays and realize I could make people laugh. My mentors were my drama teachers Marie Patella and Elizabeth Anne Poole. They were instrumental in helping me realize my love for the theatre and they took us to many shows in NYC.
My first leading role was in Charlie's Aunt in my Junior year. I innocently did things on stage that made my fellow actors laugh and I learned that if I could keep a straight face the audience loved it.
I first saw the movie of Camelot when it was released in 1967. Many years later I did the National Tour of Camelot starring Richard Harris who was Arthur in the movie. Over a period of two years my twin brother James replaced me in the show, then I replaced him and then he replaced me again. The last time I was the Merlyn understudy and had to go in the role while my brother went on in my part. One of the few times we have appeared on the same stage and no one knew.
I have never worked at WBT before, but my brother has done 14 shows here. I have enjoyed being an audience member here several times and now I am, finally, enjoying being on the stage.
I love the film of Camelot but my earliest influences were the movies of CAROUSEL, OKLAHOMA, KING AND I and WEST SIDE STORY.
Right now, I really want to play Vanya in Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike by Christopher Durang.
When not on stage, I love going to the theatre ( Busman's Holiday), and movies. Hooked on Downton Abbey and House of Cards. I also enjoy listening to the old classic jazz singers like, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Dinah Washington and Tony Bennett.
One day during lunch at the Manhattan’s Lamb’s Club, Frederick Loewe walked up to Alan Jay Lerner’s table. “You write good lyrics,” he said, “Would you like to do a musical with me?” Lerner replied: “Yes, I happen to have two weeks off.” The rest is musical theatre history. Their collaborations yielded an impressive collection of musicals: Brigadoon (1947), Paint Your Wagon (1951), My Fair Lady (1956, film 1964), the film Gigi (1958), and Camelot (1960). The score and lyrics for Camelot are among the most successful to emerge from American musical theatre.
In 1959, Alan Jay Lerner and Moss Hart began to adapt T. H. White's The Once and Future King as their next project. Frederick Loewe agreed to write music, with the understanding that if things went badly, it would be his last score. Lerner and Loewe were already enjoying great success with their musical My Fair Lady. The producers were able to secure a strong cast, including Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Roddy McDowall, as well as Robert Goulet in his first Broadway role. John Cullum also made his Broadway debut as Sir Dinadan.
Camelot opened on Broadway on December 3, 1960. At that point, ticket sales were not impressive and it was projected that it would close before My Fair Lady. However, the production had its big break when Ed Sullivan invited Lerner and Loewe to be on his television program for an hour slot. Lerner and Loewe used that opportunity to feature all the best songs and scenes from Camelot.
Lerner recounts: “The following morning, for the first time there was a line halfway down the block. And when the curtain came down, the reaction and the applause were overwhelming. The people came up the aisles raving. Camelot was finally a hit.”
Not only did the show run for over a year, but its original cast album was one of the top selling albums of the year. Camelot won four Tony Awards in 1961 for Actor, Musical Director, Scenic Designer and Costume Designer.
Camelot was a favorite musical of the Kennedy Administration. Jacqueline Kennedy coined the term Camelot to refer to their time in the Executive Mansion. A week after his death she told a reporter that her slain husband had loved listening to a record from the popular Broadway musical about King Arthur’s court. She said his favourite lines from it were: “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”
Our production, featuring an Intimate and fresh concept is filled with surprises. With many impressive acting and directing credits, both on Broadway and with national tours, our Director/Choreographer, Richard Sabellico, described his longtime interest in revising successful Broadway shows. "There are many well-written musicals trapped in an era or suffering from an overburdened book," he said. "My main interest is to keep the integrity and intentions of the script while making the show palatable, enjoyable and current for a modern audience."
This is exactly what Mr. Sabellico has done with 'Camelot'. He received permission from Alan Jay Lerner’s family to reshape the show. “We have kept all the beloved songs and focused more on the love story of Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot," says Sabellico. "What we eliminated was all the pomp and circumstance, which really was auxiliary to the story. There is great depth to this production," Sabellico said. “Camelot’ really is a true love triangle, with characters who are each good and noble people who struggle with their feelings. I want the audience to sympathize with these very human characters and to think about them long after the show is over.