Playwright Ken Ludwig, who wrote this adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' book, calls "The Three Musketeers" "the best and longest comic book in the world." Accordingly, he has peppered it with snappy anachronistic dialogue. My favorite line comes from Sabine, D'Artagnan's sister, who complains, "Being a girl in the 17th century is not that much fun."
Sabine herself is Ludwig's invention. She is supposed to be going to Paris to attend a convent school, but she spends most of her time hanging out with the musketeers, and she even has a sword fight with treacherous Milady. Sceri Sioux Ivers really shines in this role; she's feisty and disarmingly candid without sacrificing her femininity.
The characterizations of the musketeers are true to the book, and the actors bring them vividly to life. J. Todd Adams' Athos exudes the world-weary resignation of a man who has felt the sting of betrayal; stylish Porthos is a slave to fashion; and as Aramis, Tasso Feldman delights in spouting Bible verses to seduce young women but has a soft heart.
As for Luigi Sottile's D'Artagnan, his father's parting advice is "It takes courage to be yourself," and his impulsive bravado constantly gets him in trouble. Within hours of reaching Paris, he has antagonized and scheduled duels an hour apart with all three musketeers. "I'm as good as dead," he ironically confides to the audience.
The supporting performances are also strong. "Much Ado's" Ben Livingston and Kim Martin-Cotten team up again as D'Artagnan's parents and King Louis XIII and Queen Anne. Livingston's Louis is a foolish fop who is smarter than he looks, and Martin-Cotten is sophisticated and politically astute as Anne. Peter Lohnes' arrogant, cruel Cardinal Richelieu and Melinda Parrett's devious, devilish Milady are villains you love to hate. Kelly Rogers is sweet and loyal as Constance, and Jack Lafferty's opportunistic Rochefort knows when to fight and when to run away.
Scott Davis' regal set features warm wooden floors and blue wallpaper adorned with fleurs-de-lis. David Kay Mickelsen's period costumes are eclectic and dramatic, and the color patterns help us recognize alliances. Donna Ruzika's responsive lighting pinpoints the flow of the action. David Woolley's fight choreography is intense, and Joe Payne's sound design has a sense of humor.
Jones succinctly describes "The Three Musketeers" as a "blend of heroism and humor," and this winning combination offers something for everyone.