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Bikers in Camelot—An Advance Music Review

THEATER BIKERS

By Doug Robinson

Musicals are tough. In terms of performance, they require many of the same skill sets as any other theatrical production—the direction, staging, and acting are the key elements that can make or break your evening.

Bikers in Camelot, a new musical by Wendy and Ken Bichel that opens at the San Miguel Playhouse February 20, will make your evening.

As a member of the six-piece orchestra for this world-premiere musical-theater event, I’ve been hearing some of these songs in demo form for a couple of years, and I want to shine a light on what I’ve already heard, because I know it’s easy to get blasé about local theater, and especially musicals.

I’m excited to tell you that these compositions are everything I hope for when I see a musical production—they advance the story, they emerge from the dialogue in a naturally entertaining manner, and they have hooks that will get stuck in your ear and have you singing to yourself for days. More than that, these compositions stand on their own—I’ve found myself listening over and over for the sheer pleasure of it. In a bona fide stage musical, if the songs themselves aren’t happening, everything else falls flat. You don’t care that the set is wonderful or the characters seem charming if the songs are pedestrian and forgettable. And equally important, if the singers can’t deliver the material in professional and compelling performances, you might as well stay home and read the script.

Looking over the score and listening to the demos, I think I can hear some of what I assume are Wendy Bichel’s influences—Broadway musical legends Stephen Sondheim and Frank Loesser, and Donald Fagen of the rock band Steely Dan. The music in Bikers in Camelot consists of clever counterpoint melodies sung in duets, trios, and quartets, all which keep the listener on his or her toes.

The extremely talented cast makes it sound effortless, but these compositions are complex and challenging while still being deeply moving. “Hidden in the Shadows” in particular, reminds me of Sondheim, which is high praise. It is a meditative piece of music, and its constantly modulating melodies create a moodily romantic mood.

There are 17 pieces of brand-new music in Bikers in Camelot, more than enough to give you the experience of having seen a world-class production. My eyes will be glued to the score in every performance, but I do hope to see you at intermission!

Bikers in Camelot: February 20–March 3 at the San Miguel Playhouse, Avenida Independencia 82. Wed and Sun at 3pm, Thurs–Sat at 7pm. Tickets at Boleto City on the second floor at Mercado Sano, or online at boletocity.com or sanmiguelplayhouse.com.

 

Theater

Bikers in Camelot

Wed, Feb 20, 7pm

Wed and Sun, 3pm

Thu–Sat, 7pm

San Miguel Playhouse

Avenida Independencia 82

Tickets at Boleto City at Mercado Sano

boletocity.com

sanmiguelplayhouse.com

 

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