“It’s only a model,” Terry Gilliam’s Patsy says, sotte voce, with a shrug of Camelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The soon-to-reunite Monty Python lads sure had that one right. Their spoof of Lerner & Loewe’s celebrated 1960 musical is an adaptation of T.H. White’s novel, The Once and Future King, which is an adaptation of Thomas Malory’s 15th-century epic Le Morte d’Arthur, which is itself a fanciful retelling of tales that probably have little to do with anything that actually happened way back when. Still, even for a model however many layers removed from historical reality, L & L’s Camelot, which The Shedd is producing beginning Dec. 5 for its winter musical, is a perennially attractive one, even if, as the Pythons ultimately conclude, it is a silly place. After an original run of nearly a thousand performances, Camelot won four Tony awards and was turned into a 1967 movie. Today, only the title song and the show-stopping ballad “If Ever I Would Leave You” have really lasted, so this production directed by The Shedd’s veteran team of Robert Ashens and Richard Jessup, and starring Chas King, Shannon Coltrane and Matt Musgrove, offers a chance to hear the rest of the score, whose cast album dominated America’s top-selling music charts for a year.
More Shedd regulars (Shirley Andress, Bill Hulings, et al.) take the stage at the venue’s annual family-friendly holiday show Thursday, Dec. 12, and Sunday, Dec. 15, featuring carols and other seasonal songs. The show repeats in Corvallis on the 17th and Florence Dec. 18. One of The Shedd’s other popular regulars, singer Siri Vik, joins the Eugene Concert Choir, Dance Theatre of Oregon and the Yama Yama combo at the Hult Center on Dec. 15 in Eugene Concert Choir’s annual Holiday Pops show, featuring carols and other familiar seasonal tunes.
That’s only one of several attractive collaborations this month. Dec. 14, the Vikuitous Siri joins a small jazz combo in a pair of performances of winter-themed music, including a jazzy interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s poignant seasonal fairy tale, Little Matchstick Girl, at The Jazz Station. And this Friday, Dec. 6, The Jazz Station continues its Women In Jazz series with a performance by New York-based trumpeter/composer Rebecca Coupe Franks and her quintet powered by the veteran Portland jazz drummer Alan Jones. Over a two-decade career, the California native has worked or studied with legends including Joe Henderson, Art Farmer, Art Blakey and Tom Harrell, and their influence shows in her strong, straight-ahead style, occasionally inflected by funk or Latin accents.
Speaking of the Eugene Concert Choir, ’tis the season for the onslaught of Nutcrackers and Messiahs, and Saturday, Dec. 7, ECC and Oregon Mozart Players team up at the Hult Center to bring music from Handel’s immortal Baroque oratorio to town, including an invitation for the audience to join in ye olde “Hallelujah” chorus. Also at the Hult on Dec. 14, the Eugene Symphony collaborates with Portland’s ever-appealing Pink Martini to turn Silva Hall into a kind of Latin lounge holiday party, bubbling with the band’s mid-century Latin and global pop, as heard on their new Joy to the World CD.
It’s the Advent season on the Christian calendar, and at First United Methodist Church on each of the next three Fridays (Dec. 6, 13 and 20), three top Oregon organists — Susan Johnson (playing Bach and more), Barbara Baird (American carols) and Julia Brown (French Christmas music) play music of that season.
Before the tide of holiday music finally inundates us, though, Chamber Music Amici offers one last chance for some non-Santa classical music. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Oakland’s MarshAnne Landing Winery and Monday, Dec. 9, at its usual venue, Springfield’s Wildish Theater, the ensemble composed of current and former UO faculty musicians performs Brahms’s appropriately autumnal Clarinet Quintet, Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s Duet for Violins and an unusual treat: Darius Milhaud’s 1936 suite for violin, clarinet and piano, drawn from the great 20th-century French composer’s music for a play about a soldier who has lost his memory in what was then called the Great War, before they had a term like PTSD. Like Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, also inspired by WWI, it’s surprisingly upbeat, which shouldn’t be surprising given the rest of Milhaud’s fizzy output.