After their smash-hit success My Fair Lady, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe teamed up with Moss Hart on their next project, a musicalization of T.H. White's The Once and Future King, which had been released just a year before the team began work on the musical adaptation in 1959. Itself loosely based on 1485's Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, White's book collects four shorter novels tracking the mythical story of King Arthur, from childhood to death. Camelot mainly centers on the love triangle between King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, and Sir Lancelot.
The work had a somewhat difficult development, opening a pre-Broadway engagement in Toronto in October 1960 that reportedly began performances running more than four hours long. By the time the show reached Broadway, Lerner, Loewe, and Hart were still unhappy with the musical, but audiences were enchanted, particularly with the work's original Broadway cast recording (including performances from original cast members Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, and Robert Goulet), which included such soon-to-be standards as "If Ever I Would Leave You," "The Lusty Month of May," and "Camelot."
The team would ultimately take the rare move of making a number of major changes to the show after opening night, which went so far as to see crowd-favorite songs "Take Me to the Fair" and "Fie on Goodness" removed even after they were included on the best-selling original cast album. Much happier with the new version of the show, its writers let Camelot settle into an 873-performance run, after which the work became a favorite of stock and amateur theatres and played numerous tours and major revivals. A film version was released in 1967 starring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave.
As the show prepares to return to Broadway in yet another revision, with a new book by To Kill a Mockingbird playwright Aaron Sorkin, we're looking back at Camelot's original production and some of its major revivals on Broadway and beyond.
Camelot, Majestic Theatre - 1960
Richard Burton's reign as King Arthur of Camelot begins at the Majestic Theatre. Citizens of the enchanted land include Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, and Roddy McDowall. The production had its first preview December 1, 1960, and opened on December 3. It played 873 performances before closing January 5, 1963.
Camelot, Winter Garden Theatre - 1980
Twenty years after he was crowned King Arthur to Julie Andrews' Guenevere, Richard Burton takes on the role once more in a revival of Camelot. The musical plays Lincoln Center's New York State Theater and co-stars Christine Ebersole as the Lady to Burton's King. The production had its first preview June 30, 1980, and opened July 8. It played 56 performances before closing August 23, 1980. When this production returned to Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1981, it would be filmed for broadcast on HBO starring Richard Harris (reprising his 1967 film performance) and Meg Bussert.
Camelot, Gershwin Theatre - 1993
A third Broadway revival ran June 21–August 7, 1993, at the Gershwin Theatre, with Robert Goulet returning to the work as Arthur and Patricia Kies as his Queen Guenevere. The limited run played 56 performances.
Camelot, The Muny - 2022
Robert Petkoff, Shereen Pimentel, and Brandon Chu led the cast of this recent outdoor production at St. Louis's Muny, which ran June 22–June 28 under the direction of Matt Kunkel.
Camelot, Vivian Beaumont Theater - 2023
Lincoln Center Theater's upcoming Broadway revival of Camelot has set new dates in spring 2023, with performances now set to begin March 9 and open April 13 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Casting has not yet been announced.