As an Anglophile, I have always been fascinated with history and especially the old legends of King Arthur and Merlin. Therefore when I heard of the new musical play, Merlin: The Untold Adventures being performed at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, I jumped at the chance to go.
Now celebrating their 40th year, the theatre is presenting several Shakespearian plays along with Merlin and the Royal Family, a comedy.
The adventure comes to life in Theatricum’s verdant outdoor theater in rustic Topanga Canyon, challenging preconceived notions and revealing the humanity of a magician set on a quest for truth and everlasting peace.
The imaginative Merlin, staring Melora Marshall, was written and directed by Ellen Geer, and played against a musical score composed by Marshall McDaniel and Kellen McDaniel, starts out when the Devil (Leo Knudson) decides to create an anti-Christ - but backfires as he ends up creating Merlin instead who, according to the play's legend, came from the sunken isles of Atlantis to live among the Druids.
As the “untold adventures” of Merlin begin, the Celts and their druid priests face expulsion and death, and fear looms over Britain and her neighboring isles. Combining elements from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, biblical texts, Atlantis, Stonehenge and a clash of kings and dynasties, Geer introduces a young Merlin grappling with his identity.
Merlin was there from one century and civilization through to another while trying to keep the peace in a time where peace was difficult.
Merlin wanders through history as he retells his story to his younger self. I found the transitions a bit confusing and the found it odd that one of the Roman guards was dressed in the uniform of the Knights Templar (an 11th century knight.) The story only briefly goes into the events of Arthur and the creation of the Excalibur sword, which I would have liked to seen more of.
Featured in this theatrical work are Claire Andrew, Lily Andrew, Susan Angelo, Abby Craden, Jason Paul Eveans, Samara Frame, Willow Geer, Ed Giron, Valeka Holt, Charles M Howell IV, Jim LeFave, Dianne Manaster, Timonthy McCray, Mchaiel McFall, Emelie O'Hara, Marcello Olivas, Luis Ordaz, Colin Simon, Even Tamayo, Andrew Thacher, JB Waterman, and Christopher Weir.
Others featured in the play were Aaron Hendry, Jonathan Blandino, Taylor Jackson Ross, Nathaniel Meek, Nick Molari, Syd Mason, Sarah Lyddan, and Annabelle James.
Merlin, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga 90290. Opens July 20. Sat 8 pm, Sun 3:30 or 7:30, depending on dates. Fri. 8 pm (Aug. 9 and Sept. 20 only). Through Sept. 29. Tickets: $10-35. www.Theatricum.com. 310-455-3723.