by Rita Charleston
“Camelot,” one of the theater’s most beloved musicals, has been extended through June 24 at Ambler’s Act II. Featuring Lerner and Loewe’s memorable songs, “Camelot” brings the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to life with a story that poignantly dramatizes the human conflict in this classic tale.
“Camelot” tells the story of Arthur, a squire who becomes King after extracting the sword Excalibur from its legendary rock. The musical follows Arthur from a young, ambitious, idealistic King who dreams of creating a just society to the despairing monarch bearing witness to his dream’s demise. Arthur’s dream is inspired by his vivacious Queen Guinevere but begins to unravel when she falls in love with Arthur’s most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot.
Act II’s production is directed by Matt Pfeiffer and stars Eileen Cella as Guinevere. Now in her third year as Act II managing director, Cella, 28, explains that “every theater is different, but here I am charged with managing day-to-day operations. Along with Tony (Braithwaite, Act II’s artistic director and the man who gave Eileen her start), we work together to reach the playhouse’s goals.”
In fact, Cella didn’t even know she wanted to be a performer until late in high school at Agnes Irwin School in Rosemont. That’s when a friend who attended the all-boys school, St. Joe’s Prep, and was in the drama program there (directed by Braithwaite), told Cella that Braithwaite needed some girls to fill various roles.
“I decided to try out, thinking I might get an ensemble role. Instead,” she says, “I got the lead in ‘Some Like It Hot.’ And then the pressure was on because Tony made sure this was not just another high school play where parents only came to watch their own children perform, but as close to perfection as possible.” And as much as she enjoyed the experience, Cella went on to major in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.
But the lure of the theater could not be denied for long by Cella, who has maintained a relationship with some aspect of the theater ever since her college graduation. Aside from her current role as managing director at Act II, she has appeared on the stage there in “My Fair Lady,” “Lend Me A Tenor,” “Red Herring,” et al. She also acted at 1812 Productions, The Kimmel Center, off-Broadway and in the national tour of “The Little Prince.”
Describing herself as basically an actor/singer, Cella says she’s having the time of her life in this production. “The best thing about working in the theater is being around other people who are interested in all kinds of complex things involved in being a human. Exploring that with others is very rewarding,” she says. “And years from now, I hope to be exploring new avenues in the arts, whether directing or writing, and still being deeply involved in acting.”
Act II is located at 56 E. Butler Ave. in Ambler. For tickets call 215-654-0200.