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Camelot Theatre enters the new season with big plans and no debt on its building.

Camelot heads into 2019 season flying high

Camelot Theatre’s 2019 season will include regional debuts of three musicals, “Billy Elliot,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”

Two productions, “Billy Elliott” and “Peter Pan,” will have actors who fly. And the theater’s backers will also be flying high, following the announcement that a capital campaign has wiped out its mortgage debt.

Shirley Patton will return to acting in 2019, with a starring role in the dramatic comedy, “The Gin Gang,” and Camelot’s youth conservancy will perform “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Blithe Spirit.”

Camelot’s popular “Spotlight” productions will showcase the music and performances of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Frankie Valli, Motown and the Mamas & the Papas.

Camelot Theatre announced its 2019 season last week in a private event for major donors.

Some of the productions will push the boundaries of community theater. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” will have a volunteer 20-person community choir, and rehearsals for “Billy Elliott” will start six months early because of the intense dance scenes that include ballet, hip-hop and jazz.

“I was told, ‘You can’t fly on your stage,’” said Shawn Ramagos, Camelot’s new artistic director. “I said, ‘OK, great. I accept the challenge.’ And now we’ll have not just one show with flying, but we have two shows with flying.”

Ramagos plans live musicians for all performances, significant investment in costumes and set design, and new technologies and special effects. Ramagos, who worked with Disney properties earlier in his career, has a flair for the extravagant, which is evident in the current Camelot production, “Priscilla – Queen of the Desert.”

Camelot Theatre has been around for 37 seasons. Camelot Executive Director Dann Hauser recalled that it all started in 1984 as Actor’s Workshop, with 69 folding chairs in an upstairs space at 365 Siskiyou Blvd., in Ashland.

Kimberly Boesche, president of the Camelot board of directors, credited former artistic director Livia Genise’s early vision for Camelot, building a professional community theater in Talent.

“Roy Von Rains, Jr. was our interim artistic director,” Boesche added. “He shaped the theater in the treatment of the actors, the directors, the players incorporating them more in a collaborative way. And Shawn has taken our stage presence to a completely new place. I believe it has made us more competitive, and it’s very exciting.”

Boesche surprised the audience by tearing up the paper on Camelot’s $700,000 mortgage and loans. Thanks to 87 donors and the successful completion of the Slay the Dragon capital campaign, Camelot will begin its 37th season debt-free.

James Collier, who matched contributions to the capital campaign and made a final gift to put the campaign over the top, appeared on stage garbed in gold, wearing a crown and carrying a scepter. The audience cheered and honored Collier with a standing ovation.

Auditions for the 2019 season will start Sept. 19.

For more information about Camelot Theatre, see www.camelottheatre.org or call 541-535-5250.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

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