A combination of action, fencing, romance and comedy propels the stage production of “The Three Musketeers” to glory and promises a great night at the theatre.
The story has been told countless times in movies yet playwright Ken Ludwig’s 2006 adaptation finds something new in the story with his kinetic melding of humor and intrigue. Ludwig adds a new character to the mix, that of D’Artagnan’s sister Sabine in a way that balances the male dominated action.
“The Three Musketeers” has been a staple of French literature since the prolific Alexandre Dumas wrote it in 1844. Dumas also penned multiple sequels.
D’Artagnan (Stanley Andrew Jackson III) is overly talkative perhaps to cover up for his country ways now that he’s in the big city.
His goal to be a musketeer in the King’s guard leads to his squaring off against his soon to be companions Athos (a swashbuckling Jay Sullivan), Porthos (the well dressed Seth Andrew Bridges) and Aramis (played with occasional religious fervor by David Matranga).
Victoria Valentine makes Sabine a double threat, sometimes using her feminine wiles to get her way while at other times dressing as a guy and joining in the swordplay. The mercurial Todd Waite gives Cardinal Richelieu the necessary evil veneer as he schemes to take down King Louis XIII (a giddy Dylan Godwin). The other actors play multiple parts to great effect ranging from royalty to innkeepers to devious villains.
While the play celebrates high adventure the tone is one of constant comic intonation and funny stances. At the beginning of the second act director Mark Shanahan ramps up the motion to farce level as multiple actors run to and fro at full speed across the stage portraying multiple incidents that happened since the previous act.
At the performance I attended, David Rainey as the Duke of Buckingham (one of six roles he plays) showed excellent improvisational skills when half of his moustache fell off during a scene with the musketeers. Without missing a beat Rainey tore the other half of the ‘stache off his face and tossed it aside much to the delight of the audience. The moment fit in perfectly with the humorous beats of the production.
Nearly everyone in the cast parades with a sword attached to their waist and the fight choreography never ceases to astonish whether it’s a trick move designed to swipe the sword out of an opponent’s hand or dueling one-against-five.
“The Three Musketeers” concludes in a rousing fashion as the four leads along with Sabine draw their rapiers together over their head and declare “All for one, and one for all.”
“The Three Musketeers” runs at the Alley Theatre until June 20.
— michael bergeron