HCLO returns 'Camelot' to the stage

Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera rounds out its 41st season the first week of May with a beloved musical, boasting an inspiring connection to one of Hattiesburg’s own.

In spring 1991, Miles Doleac swaggered across the stage of Hattiesburg’s Historic Saenger Theater as Mordred, King Arthur’s malevolent son, in HCLO’s Camelot.

“It was the first significant role I had done in anything. And it was an absolutely life-altering experience,” Doleac said.

On May 5-7, the Hattiesburg native will walk the boards again (albeit in a different theater), in another HCLO Camelot, this time as ‘Arthur.’ The show will be directed by Rob Mulholland, with musical direction by Michael Miles and choreography by Lindsay Anne Williams. Camelot will be presented at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center on the USM Campus.

 “It sounds trite, but this really is a kind of coming full circle for me,” said Doleac. “This show and this organization have come to represent something deeply meaningful in my life. It’s also terrific to be working with Rob (Mulholland) again, who directed me in ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’” Doleac said.

Despite his achievements as a professional actor and director, widespread appearances in major Hollywood movies and television shows and having directed three feature films of his own, Doleac continues to focus his energies on local theatre, and, especially, on the continuing success of Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera.

“In some ways, HCLO is the reason why I do this,” Doleac said. “Performing in HCLO shows, and shows at Hattiesburg High, awakened in me a love for the arts that has only grown over the years. For me, HCLO is where it all began. I’m compelled to give back and I consider it a privilege to do so. We are at a time when the arts need real champions. They are so profoundly important for so many reasons. And I’ll be screaming that message from the hilltops for as long as I can.”

Camelot, of course, follows the legendary King Arthur’s creation of the Round Table, his noble dream of an idealized kingdom and the troubles he faces when his wife, Guenevere, falls in love with one of his knights, Lancelot, troubles that threaten to shatter, not only his marriage, but his kingdom.

And yet, despite these upheavals, Arthur’s idealism and his belief in humanity persists.

“In King Arthur’s words, Camelot is a vision of 'a world without borders … a new order where might is only used for right,'  said Director Rob Mulholland. “It is that idea which propels the story through the centuries.  Camelot can be anywhere, anytime. In our production, we’ve tried to capture the timeless universality of that dream.”

Adapted from T.H. White’s novel, ‘The Once and Future King,’ the musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe ran 873 performances on Broadway, won four Tony awards, and spawned several revivals and a 1967 film starring Richard Harris as ‘Arthur’ and Vanessa Redgrave as ‘Guenevere,’ who took over the roles that Richard Burton and Julie Andrews originated on Broadway. Notable among its celebrated score are its rollicking title song, Camelot, I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight, If Ever I Would Leave You, I Loved You Once in Silence and many others.

Other notable cast members in HCLO’s production include Lauren Cate Leake as Guenevere, Brandon Hayes as Lancelot, Wes Hansen as Pellinore and Joseph VanZandt as Mordred.

 The show runs May 5-7 (Curtain at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday).

For tickets, call 1.800.844.TICK (8425). Additional information can be found at HCLO’s website, www.hclo.org, or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/-HattiesburgCivicLightOpera/.