Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On the road with Michael York


by MICHAEL YORK

Michael York as King Arthur in Camelot
You wonder what the king is doing tonight? Well, most likely, yet another performance of “Camelot. Greetings from “the road” – in this case the one that runs through storm-soaked Dallas – where I am in the final stages of a six month tour playing King Arthur in a new, revised production of the beloved musical. We started in January and have weathered winter storms and tropical deluges, and now here we are in the signature lusty month of May. It has been an enjoyable, but challenging experience.

As a fairly new American citizen I wanted to see my adopted country in all its sea to shining sea variety, and what better way, I thought, than by headlining in a musical that has become part of the cultural fabric. The time seemed right too – in a world run by too many Mordreds, people needed to be reminded of Camelot’s brief and shining moment of idealized government, where love and honor were realities and not just cynical spin words. 

As it has turned out, the sheer expense of energy demanded by eight performances a week (and often five at the weekend), the constant traveling (on what is amusingly called the “rest day”), plus handling all the publicity duties, has rather blunted my ambitions for extra-curricular activities. Much time has been spent in enforced resting in order to maximize showtime energy. But the positive audience response everywhere has made this more than worthwhile.

There have been many other pleasures and I have amassed some outstanding memories, many that thankfully I have been able to share with my wife, Pat, who has accompanied me whenever her own work allowed. They include vistas of upstate New York blanketed in picture-postcard snow; the brand new sculpture garden in Seattle; the muddy river torrenting through Greenville, S. Carolina where the Governor’s School for the Arts impressed with its new campus; a preview of the marvelous new gallery installations, opening later this year, at the Detroit Institute for the Arts; Chicago blooming with brio and tulips and its bravura new Millennium Park, with its stunning Peninsula Hotel providing a sybaritic home-from-home; some welcome repose in the Ritz Carlton Spa in Orlando and, all across the country, equally welcome manna from Whole Foods stores that now seem as ubiquitous as Starbucks. And all along the way I have benefited from the sheer kindness of strangers.

Some odd things have also been observed. Why is cheese now dumped on everything – even seafood - and ice automatically served with water in rooms made arctic by air-conditioning? Why so much unhealthy and expensive cooling? I have now become an expert on hotel rooms where the simplest things – bright bedside lamps and hooks on doors, for example, represent true luxury, meriting whole extra stars. 

The passing months have been marked by the birthday cakes, served at intermission, of our talented and dedicated company, my cherished extended family.  One actor claimed he was asked by a chambermaid, “Do you want your room done? Or are you just show folk?” After this experience on tour, I’m even more proud to be counted in that number, and very much look forward to  granting audience to further audiences in our remaining city venues – Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Toronto, Washington and Pittsburgh. No RSVP necessary!

Here are the locations where "Camelot" will be playing in the upcoming weeks:

5 -10 June Merriam Theatre, Philadelphi, PA
12 -24 June Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale, FL
27 -30 June Hummingbird Centre, Toronto, ONT
10 -15 July Wolf Trap, VA
17 -22 July Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, PA