08/11/05 - richard burton

In today's excerpt - our familiar contributor Alan Jay Lerner writes of Richard Burton's leadership and emotional role in Camelot. The play is in its out-of- town rehearsals and proceeding disastrously. Burton—young, and subsequently much-maligned—is the star the producers are depending on to show the qualities of leadership:

"God knows what would have happened had it not been for Richard Burton. If ever a star behaved like a star in every sense of the word it was he. Whatever doubts he may have had about the future of the play were his secret only and throughout the four weeks in Boston he radiated a faith and geniality which infected the company and for which I shall he forever grateful to him. He accepted the cuts and changes necessary to open the play in Boston without a word, and two weeks before the play opened in New York he began rehearsing almost a brand new second act ... and launched into it with gusto and diligence. It was inevitable that from time to time one of the actors would have a sudden fit of despair, inevitably overstated and inevitably due to the fear that he was being overlooked, or that his part was not being honed or improved. Richard always stepped in, calmed him down, and reassured him all would be taken care of in good time. In simple language, he kept the boat from rocking, and Camelot might never have reached its final destination on Forty-fourth Street had it not been for him."


Alan Jay Lerner


The Street Where I Live


W.W. Norton & Company


Copyright 1978 by Alan Jay Lerner


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