The Briarwood Academy Chorus cast will present one of the world's most popular musicals, Camelot, on Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26, at Briarwood.
"The leads are outstanding," said Chorus Director Jeanie Joesbury of senior Joseph Baldwin, who will portray King Arthur; junior Davis Griffin, who will portray Lancelot; and freshman Brittany Ray, who will play Guenevere. "Joseph and David have both won Best Actor awards at state (GISA AA competition,) and Brittany played the title role of Annie when we presented that musical several years ago."
Briarwood Academy Chorus members (from left) Blake Stitcher, Sir Lionel; Brittany Ray, Guenevere; Joseph Baldwin, King Arthur; and Davis Griffin, Sir Lancelot; rehearse for the upcoming production of Camelot.
The cast principals will be working with diction coaches - "some English ladies" - to add to the authenticity of the musical, which is set in medieval England.
Camelot is the tale of the magical and idealistic, romantic kingdom of the legendary King Arthur. King Arthur weds his chosen bride, Guenevere, and with her support and the tutorage of his magician, Merlyn, brings tranquility and justice to his domain with the establishment of the famous Round Table. Lancelot arrives to join King Arthur and falls in love with Queen Guenevere, who returns his affection. Out of deep respect and affection for the King, Lancelot leaves on quests, but eventually returns. Arthur's evil son, Mordred, who despises all of the good his father has accomplished, tricks Lancelot and Guenevere into a compromising situation, turning Arthur's just laws to his evil wants and forcing a war. Before the battle begins, King Arthur forgives Queen Guenevere and Lancelot, and then he finds a young man who aspires to join the Round Table and charges him with passing on to the next generations the ideals of Camelot.
More than 70 Briarwood students are in the cast of the romantic musical which features such memorable songs as Camelot, If Ever I Would Leave You, How to Handle a Woman, and I Loved You Once in Silence.
Les Reagan, who is organist for the First United Methodist Church of Thomson, managing director of the Augusta Opera and the director of most of the musicals produced by the Augusta Players, will play the piano and assist with the production.
"We're very, very lucky to have him," Mrs. Joesbury said.
The Chorus is also lucky to have the talents of senior Matthew Rivers as choreographer. In addition to choreographing many numbers for the Briarwood Chorus throughout high school, he is a dancer with Augusta West Ballet. He plans to pursue college studies in dance at Oklahoma State University, according to Mrs. Joesbury.
This musical will feature not only the largest set, but also the most lavish costumes the Chorus has used in a musical, according to Mrs. Joesbury.
"The students are excited about the medieval costumes, and we're going to build a castle - a large one," she said. "We're really excited about it."
The large cast is being accommodated by improvements to the Briarwood stage, according to Mrs. Joesbury, who said that two additional access doors are providing the extra space needed for the additional actors and for an expanded set.
Featured actors in the production include Jason Dunham as Merlyn, Chase Wilson as Mordred, Blake Stitcher as Sir Lionel, Seth Williford as Sir Dinaden, Olivia Lyons as Lady Anne, Angela Kirkland as Lady Catherine, Heather Neal as Nimue, Ali Dyson as Lady Sybil, and Jennifer Douglas, Courtney Price, Amanda Rutkowski and Morgan Stuckey as Ladies in Waiting.