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Cedar City • At the end of Utah Shakespeare Festival's rousing and riotous production of "The Three Musketeers," the characters sum up what happens next. Their concluding comment is "Life is an adventure." From start to finish, that's the philosophy of this action-filled production, which overflows with sword fights on the stage, on the balcony and even in the theater aisles.
The production has a contemporary, cinematic feeling. Director B.J. Jones often counterpoints what's happening in different times and places to propel the storyline along, and characters never walk when they can run, which seems particularly apropos for an adventure story that started as a serial in a French newspaper in 1844 and a century later became a Classic Comic.
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.
All for one …
Utah Shakespeare Festival's stylish production of "The Three Musketeers" offers larger-than-life heroes and villains and plenty of swashbuckling action.
When • Reviewed July 9; plays in rotating repertory with two other productions Mondays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Sept. 9
Where • Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, 299 W. Center St., Cedar City
Tickets • $20 to $73, with discounts for groups, students, and seniors; 800-PLAYTIX (752-9849) or http://www.bard.org
Running time • Two hours and 15 minutes (including an intermission)