THE THREE MUSKETEERS COMBINE COMEDY AND ADVENTURE AND A WELL BALANCED MIX IS SURE ENTERTAINMENT
The clatter and clang of swordplay is the first thing you hear as the lights rise on Douglas Morrison Theatre’s 40TH Season opener THE THREE MUSKETEERS.” Ken Ludwig’s version of the 17th century tale is now on the Hayward stage only through September 29th. Directed and fight choreographed by Steve Muterspaugh, he brings a cast of local favorites to swashbuckle Ludwig’s very entertaining take on the Musketeers. “All for one and one for all” says Muterspaugh is the heart of this play “the Musketeer credo is a welcome reminder to my modern ears.” He goes on to say “Ludwig’s work has everything I love about the theatre, the action is epic, the romance is soaring and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
Ludwig's version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS includes a number of groans and guffaws that are worked into Alexandre Dumas'1844 adventurous novel about French royals and rogues. His script was a 2006 hit in England at the Bristols Old Vic. What makes DMT’s rendition entertaining and sometimes strained is how over the top the comic shtick tends to be. Many gags and clever swords fights work well, and some are too repetitive. The plot revolves around the hero D'Artagnon, played by the terrific Izaak Heath, who sets off for Paris to join the King's musketeers with his sister Sabine in tow. The giddy Kate McGrath plays Sabine and is busy alongside Heath as they both show off their keen fighting skills.
The two hour play is a series of misadventures mostly of a comical nature yet there are dark moments for this sword-bearing 15 member cast. There is some fun in D'Artagnon's continuing word battles with Cardinal Richelieu, played by the authentic David Ghilardi, and his sidekick Captain Rochefort played by local favorite Ray D’Ambrosio. The villain, the Countess De Winter, is played by the marvelous Le-Leng Au she gives this cast some well needed diversity. Au’s fight skills are stunning, the death and dark side she brings to this adventure keeps the play edgy.
Soon enough the young hero finds himself facing a duel with each of the Musketeers including Athos played by the clever David Schiller. Porthos and Aramis are played by the riveting Dan Kurtz and Steve Alhoff. They all become involved with the high jinx of the Queen's diamond necklace as D'Artagnon also falls for the Queen's servant Constance played by the gifted Sara Luna, while avoiding the commands of her Queen played by the superb Cynthia Lagodzinski. King Louis is played by the talented Russell Nauman. Both royals are elegantly dressed by costume designer, Y Sharon Peng. Peng’s breathtaking costumes are scene stealers throughout the two act romp. Her highlight is the ballroom costume party and King Louis’ wonderful Lion gown. The skilled company members Anya Cherniss, Gene Mocsy, Theodor Reuter and Jim Woodbury fill out the many other roles in the thrilling cast.
The full throttle direction by Muterspaugh moves the story at lightning speed, highlighting his sharp fight choreography with help from Sydney Schwindt and fight captain, Theodor Reuter. Christopher Fitzer’s set design is dominated by a two level set of staircases and dark passage ways making scene transitions fluid. Stage manager, Christian Tanton, moves the large cast on and off the set with ease, and Materspaugh’s direction includes many scenes that take place in the audience. The many props include gleaming swords and muskets coordinated by props master Peet Cocke that also included the Cardinal’s art supplies. Light designer Kevin August Landseman contrasts nicely with Peng’s luxurious, authentic costumes. The music and sound design by Michael O’Brien filled the DMT house with “All for one” epic soundtrack that made each sword battle soar.
There is fun around every corner in Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation. It captures the novel’s sense of excitement and adds some thrills of its own. Yet this stage romp at times isn’t as laugh-aloud as it strains so hard to be.The latter bring to mind some glorious film treatments of THE THREE MUSKETEERS with Gene Kelley and Douglas Fairbanks doing the sword-wielding. Next up as DMT continues to celebrate their 40th year staging the honored icon musical HELLO DOLLY that opens November 7th. BLACK COMEDY by Peter Shaffer opens February 20th, but in the meantime, bring your own Musket to cheer on these Musketeers “All for one and one for all”.
Steve Alhoff, Li-Leng Au, Anya Cherniss, Ray D’Ambrosio, David Ghilardi, Izaak Heath, Dan Kurtz, Cynthia Lagodzinski, Sara Luna, Kate McGrath, Gene Mocsy, Russell Nauman, Theodore Reuter, David Schiller, Jim Woodbury
Directed and Choreographed by Steve Muterspaugh
Scenic Design by Christopher Fitzer
Costume and Hair Design by Sharon Peng
Lighting Design by Kevin Landesman
Sound Design by Michael O’Brien
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