‘Camelot in Concert’ in Bayside

| ckasden@queenscourier.com |

The mythical kingdom of Camelot and its noble characters are celebrated by Beari Productions with their version of“Camelot in Concert” at 214-35 40th Avenue (All Saints Episcopal Church) in Bayside.

At Sunday afternoon’s performance, the bright sun and warm winds of spring carried a mellow mood into the theatre. Even Director Debbie Bendana sighed, “If only the cherry blossoms could stay with us longer!”

By utilizing narrator Michael D’Emidio to tell the tale “offstage left”, the popular story is explained with just one scenic set-up and one set of costumes. The wonderful songs are all there, providing an easy to follow, lighthearted version of the more complicated full stage production. “If Ever I Would Leave You,” and “Camelot!” are among the instantly recognizable songs.

Producer Rene Bendana and Musical Director Frank Auriemma make the most of the fine voices at hand. That includes the leads and the Court of Camelot (Carol Goldman, Stephanie Cruz, Phyllis Noon, Nelson Rocha, et al). Familiar faces include Jimmy O’Neill who does a fine job as King Arthur. He brings out the humor and irony in the script. His facial expressions and vocal intonations are also very distinct. Raymond Bendana accepted the role of Sir Lancelot on very short notice. His consistent delivery does not disappoint the audience.

Candis Alek’s coquettish smile and excellent voice provide the perfect musical link between the many knights and damsels onstage. Her outstanding soprano range and reassuring presence is the type of ability that producers seek and only hope to find.

Three swordsmen (Robert Gold, Larry Byrne, Ken Voisin) challenge Lancelot to a do or die joust. They all wear black shirts, black pants and white sashes. The ladies have more colorful costumes. That includes the sorceress Nimue (VictoriaSorrentino) and Queen Morgan Le Fey (Andria Amarosa).

Wearing kilts and offering a heavy brogue, Erik Neilssen as Mordred is a great bad guy. Young Teddy Byrne portrays the lad knighted Tom of Warwick. Rene Bendana as Merlin completes the cast. Overall, it’s a truly delightful production. Located just a few blocks offBell Blvd., it’s easily accessible. For information call (718) 736-1263 or like them on facebook at Beari Productions Ltd. Don’t overlook the many projects still to come this season. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

FSFCTG; “Let’s Hear it for Queens!”

It’s rehearsal night in Flushing. The whirring drills and clanking ladders are heard while “flats” are built and spotlights prepared. Director Mark Lord rushes across the room offering suggestions to his performers. Soon his original work, “Let’s Hear it for Queens” will make its debut.

For Mark it has been a fulfilling project. He explains; “As author of the play, I feel a sense of pride when I hear the cast speaking my words and singing my lyrics. It’s pretty amazing to think that a few months ago there was nothing there and now we have a play that will hopefully entertain our audiences and also give them a sense of the borough’s history…”

The cast members gather near the piano. Musical Director Paul L. Johnson plays the opening song as the troupe follows his lead. On stage, Antiquous (Kieran Larkin) leans on his battered walking stick and begins explaining the borough’s proud history. The Poet (Paul Regan) recites every neighborhood in Queens. Theodore Roosevelt (Donald Gormanly) booms his noble credo to an enthusiastic crowd “upstage.” Later as a balladeer, he offers a touching story entitled “Broadway and 56th Ave.” As Ethel Merman, Amanda Doria belts out her songs. Soon she proudly sings, “From Whitestone to Far Rock and all that’s in between…”

A truly poignant section focuses on actor’s portrayals of real resident’s reminiscences. Melanie Lee portrays Delois Davis who tells us about “A Diverse Congregation in a Diverse Neighborhood.” Suzanne Haehnel shares “Growing Up inFlushing.” Rich Weyhausen explains “Gay Culture in 1970sJacksonHeights.” Cecilia Vaicels’ character talks about the “Queens College Campus.” Then Mary Lynch explains “Hopscotch at P.S. 117.” Don Curran tells us about “Trying Out for Baseball.” Venus Hall recounts the “First Puerto Ricans in the Neighborhood.”

The rehearsal continues. The atmosphere is hectic but warm and friendly. From her laptop, the multi-media show is programmed by Mary Ellen Pierce. Some surprise guests are also planned.

The Free Synagogue of Flushing Community Theatre Group will perform the weekends of May 4, 5 and May 11, 12. Their entrance is at 41-60 Kissena Blvd.in downtown Flushing. Call (718) 428-8681. Visit them at www.fsfctg.org or email the troupe at fsfctg@yahoo.com.Why not catch the many troupes performing this spring? As always, save me a seat on the aisle.