by Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur tells the story of an engineer who somehow ends up in England during the reign of King Arthur.
First published in 1889, this tale has been studied as a satire around themes of the monarchy and the Middle Ages and a humorous critique of many of the Industrial Revolution’s promises of modernization. The story has been adapted several times for stage and screen, and this fall audiences can enjoy a brand new adaptation from Diane Crews of York! TAFE (Theatre Arts for All) provides A York Yankee at King Arthur’s Court: A Modern Take on a Classic on stage at the Phineas Davis School, under the direction of Andrea Unger, until October 23.
This adaptation is filled with humor as it explores what might happen if someone from 1984’s York, Pennsylvania lands in King Arthur’s kingdom. It opens in a typical high school where auditions for the school play are about to begin. The audience meets Julie and Rose, the school’s “mean girls”, played by Michaela Wagner and Brynn Walker. Wagner and Walker also play Noretta and Ondeen, Morgan LeFay’s ladies-in-waiting at Camelot. In their two roles, these young actresses deliver their lines with a perfect attitude.
In this first scene, the audience is also introduced to Tamara and Hannah. Hannah is the new girl at school. She is originally from Connecticut and she is extremely intelligent. Tamara befriends Hannah, but before they can audition for the school play together, Hannah is knocked unconscious through a locker door. The role of Tamara is taken over by Avrie Marteny. Marteny has excellent comedic timing and keeps the audience laughing throughout the first scene. Caitlyn Mooney takes the stage as Hannah. Mooney is lovely in her role as Hannah. She has a wonderful energy and pacing, which keeps the show moving, and her interactions with all the other characters make the story very believable.
As Hannah is knocked unconscious, she is transported to another time and place, ending up in Camelot. Pages Aaron and Clarence, played by Isaac Roberts and Levi Schneider, very formally welcome everyone to the castle and announce the King and Queen – Arthur and Guinevere. Randy Riley and Jennifer Mooney are well matched as a royal couple. They both display the enthusiasm and kindness that people often associate with the King and Queen of Camelot.
Of course, no Arthurian legend is complete without Lords, Ladies and Knights. This courtship includes Marie Allan as Lady Lenore, Chuck Endres as Sir Galahad, Gianmarco Febres as Sir Kay, Hope Lowry as Lady Elizabeth, Vicki Schneider as Sir Dinidan, Beth Spahr as Lady Bernadette , Deb Volker as Sir Sagramor and Gina Wagner as Lady. Cassandra. While there were a few hiccups on opening night, this ensemble cast was fun to watch, especially in the scene where Hannah and Merlin show them wonders of the modern world.
In addition to the adult members of the court, there are also a number of children running around Castle Camelot. Lily Ganong, as Francis, joins the ranks of the Pages, serving Mordred. Danielle Collison, Gretchen Fair and Uriel Mercedes form the mischievous trio of Annabel, Dodgette and Kent. They bring humor and liveliness to every scene they find themselves in.
Rounding out the cast are Ramael Mercedes as Mordred, Crystal Ganong as Morgan LeFay, Quinton Laughman as Merlin, and Dave Unger as Tortolonius the Turtle. Ramael Mercedes infuses his character with the perfect mix of ambition and pomposity, but he really shines in the party scene where he gets carried away (literally) by the wonder of a bike. Crystal Ganong makes a wonderfully wicked Morgan LeFay. Her stage presence makes her character seem larger than life, which is perfect for the role of deceitful and conceited Morgan LeFay. Quinton Laughman has the task of playing one of the most famous roles of Arthurian legends – Merlin. Laughman’s Merlin is poised, intellectual, and gentle – all qualities a king could want in a trusted advisor. One of the most creative and fun characters in the entire series is Tortolonius, Merlin’s turtle friend. Tortolonius is played by Dave Unger who manages to convey Tortolonius’ emotions through his vocal inflections and subtle movements of the turtle’s head. The audience is so fascinated by Tortolonius that when he looks sad, the audience responds with an audible “aww”.
Director Andrea Unger and her team did a terrific job working with the actors to ensure they projected and delivered their lines clearly while portraying their characters. It is a pleasure to see them bring A York Yankee at King Arthur’s Court: A Modern Take on a Classic live. This is a show for audiences of all ages! For more show and ticket information, visit https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2204887®id=194&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Ftafepa.org%2Ftickets%2Fyorkyankee ?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.