The Transylvania Times -

'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court' Opens - Brevard, NC

 

October 16, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Hank, played by Henry Styron, is besieged by Merlin, played by Sally Burnett, and Queen Morgan Le Fay, played by Annette Hobbs.

Theater Review By

Bethany Rundell

As a recent honored graduate of engineering, Hank Bennett – a self-proclaimed "Yankee" from Hartford – believes the concept of time is something to be tested, telling his younger sister and mother that time will "mean nothing" when one can travel faster than time. Soon, an electric shock from his experimental radio tests his hypothesis, plunging him into 6th century Camelot, setting the stage for an entertaining juxtaposition of medieval versus modern.

The talented cast of Brevard Little Theatre's production of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" brings the satirical hilarity of John G. Fuller's play, based on Mark Twain's book by the same title, to life and transports the audience back in time. And, in spite of the length of this nearly three-hour production that offers two brief intermissions, the cast pushes on tirelessly, keeping their characters and the plot lively and amusing.

BLT newcomer Henry Styron does not disappoint in his role as Hank, capturing the stereotypical awkwardness with women and outright rejection of societal conventions that empirical thinkers, like engineers, often possess. Styron handles Hank's transition from big brother to knave to magician to CEO to sociological philosopher effortlessly, and flawlessly delivers the humorous ribbing of his outdated stage mates.

Also memorable in her performance as King Arthur's key advisor and sorcerer, Merlin, is Sally Burnett, a phenomenal actress. Burnett commands the stage in scenes where her nefarious plottings and maniacal laughter challenge Hank's naiveté to the common customs of 528 A.D. What's more, Burnett took on this role, originally portrayed by June Stacy, just days before opening night.

BLT mainstay Annette Hobbs thrills in her role as Queen Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur's menacing half-sister, intently jealous of her sibling's kingdom. Hobbs's booming voice and stage-trained projection reel in theatergoers and propel the second act forward. Le Fay's plot with Merlin to overthrow King Arthur tests the loyalties of the medieval class system.

Supporting actors Jonathan Forrester and Nita Porter shine in their roles as Clarence, King Arthur's observant page, and Elaine, a seemingly timid maiden who grows in her courage to stand up to the class system. Clarence's insight into the inner workings of King Arthur's Court provides Hank with valuable information about potential allies, and Forrester's expressions and mannerisms skillfully captures the character's suspicion about the competence of those around him.

Doug Denton and Jan Robbins, in their roles as Sir Sagramor and Hank's love interest, Sandy, offer a comedic sideshow to the main plot. Denton humorously portrays the feigned bravery and sword-swinging prowess of his character, and Robbins elevates her character's coyness with Hank into the stratosphere.

The royalty in this play, portrayed by Jack McConnell as King Arthur and Carole Pickard as Queen Guenever, ingeniously satirizes the "power" of the "lieges" of the Middle Ages. They even believe that Hank possesses the power to dim the sun, during an eclipse much like the one experienced in Western North Carolina in August. McConnell excels as the wavering Arthur, who allows numerous characters – including his queen, his top advisor, his sinister sister and Hank – to make the toughest decisions affecting his kingdom. Pickard, whose last stage performance was in high school, seems comfortable in the stage lights and in her role as the quintessential alpha queen.

Another Pickard, 11-year-old Mackenzie Pickard, kicks off and ends the show with her realistic portrayal of sassy Marion, Hank's younger sister who doesn't let up on her brother's nerdiness. The younger Pickard is definitely one to watch for in future BLT productions, as she proves her talent in this minor role. And while also playing minor roles, Maureen Whisman as Hank's mom and Jakob Robbins as Sir Launcelot, both add to the satire of society that Fuller obviously wanted to highlight.

Director Bob Stacy and producer Lauren Day, along with their production team, hit the mark with their casting of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Also notable are the costumes, pulled together by Sandy Thompson, and the minimalist, yet medieval-like set design.

Performances take place Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Oct. 29 at Brevard Little Theatre, 55 E. Jordan St. in Brevard. Ticket information can be found at http://www.TheBrevardLittleTheatre.org.

 
 

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