Two Billings lads will share the Alberta Bair Theater stage with Broadway actors when the tale of King Arthur comes to Billings on Tuesday with swashbuckling sword fights and beautiful ballads.
The touring production of the musical “Camelot” is part of the ABT’s Broadway Series and features all the characters from the 1960 Broadway production, which won four Tony Awards, including Best Actor to Richard Burton for playing King Arthur.
Castle Rock eighth-grader Jacob Logan, 13, was selected via video audition to play Tom of Warwick, and 10-year-old Cody Dupree was picked as his understudy. The two have been working on lines and mentally preparing for the opportunity to act alongside professional actors.
“It feels kind of special,” Dupree said about being selected in January.
Even though he won’t take the stage unless Logan gets sick or injured, Dupree said the story looks exciting and he’ll be happy being there, even if it’s sitting in the audience.
Both students have done their fair share of acting. Logan has twice performed in the title role in “Amahl and the Night Visitors” at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts, but his favorite role so far was Gavroche in Skyview High School’s 2012 production of “Les Miserables.”
“Music is my passion,” said Logan, whose mother, Amy Logan, is involved in musical theater and opera. “Everything about it is important to me because I grew up with it.”
The only thing that worries Logan is the short rehearsal time. He will have 10 lines to say in the production and be on stage with King Arthur most of the final scene.
“And I only have one day to rehearse with the cast,” Logan said.
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Dupree said his knees were shaking when he auditioned for the role before a local panel of judges, led by the ABT’s education director William Moaut. Even though he performed in “Alice in Wonderland” at NOVA and “Aladdin Jr.” at Billings Studio Theater, his nerves kicked in on this one because it meant so much to him.
“When you go out there, it feels like there are a million people watching you,” Dupree said.
Logan said singing is part of who he is, but for this role, he won’t get to show that off. “Camelot” is a musical, but Tom of Warwick doesn’t get a breakout moment in song. The score was so popular in the 1960s that the soundtrack hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Album Chart in 1961 and remained the top-selling LP for 60 weeks.
Three of the best-known songs from the musical are the ballads “If Ever I Would Leave You,” sung by Robert Goulet, who made his Broadway debut as Sir Lancelot, the title song, and “I Loved You in Silence,” by Julie Andrews, who played Queen Guenevere.
Many fans believe that the music, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is the secret to the longevity of “Camelot.”
The late President John F. Kennedy was a classmate of Lerner at Harvard and such a fan of “Camelot” that he said the original cast recording was what he liked to play at bedtime. Kennedy’s administration was often referred to as Camelot.
The final number has Arthur knighting young Tom of Warwick and reciting the lines, “Don’t let it be forgot / That once there was a spot / For one brief, shining moment / That was known as Camelot.”
For a couple of Billings kids, those are big lines to live up to.