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Published on 03/25/07
The Post and Courier

Lust, death, and ultimately, a glimmer of hope

flooded the stage of the Sottile Theatre

on Saturday in the final act of

Jill Eathorne Bahr's brilliantly

conceived and directed ballet version of "Camelot" performed by the Charleston Ballet Theatre.

Jerry Burr as Merlin, the wise wizard who raised King Arthur from a young boy, made his anguish over his protege's pointless death so palpable that one could think only of the needless deaths one hears of each day. Combining the universal and the personal, the scene tore your heart out.

Bahr based the story on the familiar "Once and Future King," but departed from the popular Lerner and Loewe's musical version of 'Camelot' in that she used music by various classical composers. This gave the work a more serious intent, as Arthur uses his power to invoke civil law and thus has his knights use trial-by-jury rather than trial-by-war.

Stephen Gabriel as King Arthur convincingly showed his anger and sadness when learning of the affair between his wife, Queen Guinevere, and his best friend, Lancelot. For certain, Matthew McKinney exudes sex appeal as Lancelot, especially in the sensuous pas de deux he dances with Jessica Roan as the conflicted Guinevere. The pas de deux danced by the estranged Arthur and Guinevere is a compelling mix of compassion, anger and anguish.

Using the company Flying by Foy, Jennifer Balcerzak Muller was a delight as she zipped through the air, turning flips, as Morgan La Fey, the evil half-sister of Arthur.

"Camelot," sparked by stunning sets and costumes by New Yorker Campbell Baird, was a mammoth risk taken by CBT, one that paid off beautifully.

The ballet will be repeated at 3 p.m. today at Sottile Theatre. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

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