that title alone may up my readership to the dozens! but i am referring to a particular song in a particular musical. if brigadoon was my gateway drug that entered me into the world of musicals, then this next musical was the cocaine that i became hopelessly addicted to. ignore that whole metaphor of musicals as drugs. just pretend i didn’t write it. because this musical deserves better than a drug metaphor...
i am asked a lot what my favorite musical is (well, i was asked a few times) and i like to reply, “whatever one i saw last.” i get obsessed with new ones every year. but the FIRST one that ever possessed me was the classic camelot.
my mother would later blame this musical for my wanting to stay in england longer than she wanted me to stay in england. it was all king arthur’s fault. or lancelot’s. and she may have been partially right. i did love the land of arthur and guenevere. still do.
actually i can trace the root cause to my mother and father. they took me to see camelot. i was around 10 years old. after brigadoon. and i loved it in a much more tangible way that i loved brigadoon. i HAD to have the soundtrack LP (and mine looked like the one in the above photo. a tad bit scandalous for a ten year old. no wonder i kept listening over and over and over) and they also procured the actual SCRIPT for me so that i could act it out in the comfort of my own bedroom. which i did. often. i listened to the LP on the family record player and even recorded the LP onto a blank tape on my very own tape recorder so i could listen and sing along/rehearse in my room. too bad my blank tape didn’t include those fabulous graphics...
i began reading every book that was appropriate for a 10 year old to read (and some that weren’t appropriate and were a little confusing to me) on king arthur. i became the local expert on the arthurian legends in my 5th grade class. like i said... not many friends. good grades in english lit. but not many friends.
i loved the irony of the plot line. guenevere sings that she wants an exciting life where men duel for her. and when she gets what she wants it isn’t exciting anymore. it is frightening. and sad. and rips the very fabric of her life apart. the fact that merlin lives life backwards in time and warns arthur but arthur doesn’t understand the warning until it is too late. the appearance of young passionate lancelot who wants so much to be an honor to the king, yet is undone by his own pride and brings down the kingdom by his passions. guenevere hating lancelot and then falling so madly in love with him while still maintaining some love for her husband, the king. arthur’s illegitimate son, mordred, appearing (and what the heck was an illegitimate son wondered the naive 10 year old.) it was so much more to chew on than the nancy drew series where there were so few illegitimate children and love triangles. then the ending battle where arthur wants justice and yet wants lancelot to come in a rescue guenevere. he is so torn between his kingdom and his wife and his best friend. and it ends with a war. the kingdom divided. not really the ending a 10 year old expects from a story.
i remember once trying to explain with much exuberance the incredibleness of the whole lancelot ending up doing the exact opposite of what he came to the kingdom to do (later i would realize this paralleled to paul’s struggle in the end of romans 7 of doing the exact opposite of what he wanted to do) but no one else really rose to my level of excitement over the intricacies of this story. this still happens in my life. maybe in this very blog post.
the ending was what was so perfect for me. arthur is not in a good place, physically and metaphorically. he is in a severe state of depression. the greatest thought of his life, his round table, lies in ruins, his dream of camelot is dead, and the next day, he will have to fight a battle against his best friend. because politically he has to fight this battle because lancelot has broken the laws. has committed treason against him. with his own queen.
arthur takes a walk in the woods. he hears rustling from the bushes. he challenges the person to come out of hiding. out steps a little boy with homemade bow and arrows. arthur tells the boy he shouldn’t be here – there is going to be a battle tomorrow. the boy says that is why he is here. he heard of the dream of camelot, from the stories that people tell of a shining city where the law isn’t might IS right, but might FOR right. justice for all. he wants to be a knight of the round table. he wants to defend the dream of a city like that... all because he has heard stories. i loved that. a boy willing to fight. because of the stories of something bigger than himself. something greater whispered in the lines of a story.
arthur’s demeanor changes as he realizes that HIS dream of camelot is dead, but camelot can rise again, in the next generation. the IDEA is not dead. he knights the boy on the spot and gives the boy his first orders. he is to run behind the lines, survive the battle, and return home to tell everyone of camelot. only then will there be hope for the future. then he sings about the fleeting wisp of glory that was camelot. and the boy sings along with him. arthur realizes that the battle was won, not on the battle field but in the hearts of men and in the heart of the stories that they tell and retell and live out with their ordinary lives...
as the boy scurries off to fulfill his king’s commands, sir pellinore enters. He asks, “who’s that,” and arthur replies:
“He is what we all are, pellie, just one drop in the vast sea of humanity.
But some of those drops sparkle, pellie, some of those drops DO SPARKLE.”
that line still sends shivers up my spine. and i just sat and watched the youtube version of it three times and cried each time. in the middle of battle. in the middle of losing everything we think we hold and control. in the middle of the chaos, there is hope. there are drops that sparkle. there are stories that make people shine...
Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
“children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens,
and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.