June 10 – Happy Birthday Tom Stewart

Screen-Shot-2014-02-13-at-4.08.50-PM-494x550-wpcf_162x180Think about this carefully. I was just ten years old. It was over fifty years ago. But I remember the performance today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant gave on the Wilbur Lynch auditorium stage that evening as if it was last night. That’s how good Tom Stewart was in the role of King Arthur in the 1965 Bert DeRose production of the Lerner and Lowe Broadway smash hit, “Camelot.”

DeRose called it the most ambitious project he had ever attempted. Nothing about it was easy. The sets, the costumes and the music would challenge both the membership of his Thespian Society and the AHS music department like never before. But it was the performance given in the complex lead role of King Arthur that would be the key to the play’s smashing success.

Stewart was not new to the Lynch stage. He had been in DeRose’s earlier productions of “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Brigadoon,” neither of which I had seen. When I took my seat that night I also had no idea what the story of Camelot was about either. But it took just a few lines of King Arthur’s dialog for me and the entire audience to recognize we were watching someone special perform and when he sang the theme song “Camelot” with Lady Guenivere (played beautifully by Linda Bush) I think I gave them a one-person standing ovation!

I know I wasn’t at all surprised to read a few years later that he went to Brown and intended to pursue a career in acting. I also had no doubt that he would one day appear on Broadway or on television or perhaps even in a movie. I was wrong. He’s done all three…

(The name of the company run by this other June 10 Amsterdam Birthday celebrant sort of rhymes with Camelot.)

My complete birthday post for Tom Stewart will appear in both the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays (available November, 2016) and also in my June 30, 2016 edition of the Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter.

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