It may not be exactly the same “The Three Musketeers” that Alexandre Dumas penned in 1844, but the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival’s production is as energetic as the novel that inspired it.
The production is filled with sword fights and action expertly choreographed by Jes Gonzalez, is no ordinary tale of “a will to succeed and, above all, a kind heart.” It is also one of power and romance.
Yet despite the gratuitous sword fighting and human skewering, the production offers laughs at every turn.
The play is one of two summer productions alternating at Land Park’s outdoor amphitheater on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings through August 3. The other is William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“The Three Muskteers” is a 2006 adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ classic by Broadway playwright Ken Ludwig, which opened at the Bristol Old Vic to great reviews. Sacramento’s rendition is directed by Christine Nicholson, who injects the tale with ingenuous comedy while maintaining a clear narrative.
Ludwig follows Dumas’ classic almost to the letter. The play opens with D’Artagnan (Aaron Kitchen) as a country teenager who wishes to be a Musketeer. Before his desire is granted, he becomes embroiled in a royal scandal, which pits D’Artagnan against the powerful Cardinal Richelieu, played with great relish by Mike Sicilia.
Sicilia is no stranger to the Capital community, given his current job as media manager for CalSTRS. He has been pursuing his on-stage “hobby” aggressively of late, having just starred this spring as “Doc” in City Theatre’s production of “Cannery Row.”
D’Artganan, as the story goes, blunders into duels with all of the three musketeers: Athos (Paj Crank), Porthos (Alejandro Padilla), and Aramis (Elliot Herzer). Not to mention saving the Queen’s (Janey Pintar) handmaiden Constance (Kaylee Saari) along the way. The musketeers naturally warm up to D’Artgnan eventually and come to accept him into their strange three-way.
All four of them, then pledge to overcome a devious plot by the Cardinal to seize power in France from King Louis XIII (Andrew Zelny) and his Queen, that is led by a weasely Rochfort (Sean Olivares) and Milady (Dale Lisa Flint).
Ludwig takes creative license by adding the presence of D’Artgnan’s sister Sabine (Juliana Camile Hess), who seems almost representative of modern feminism and equality.
The large cast dressed in period costumes, fashioned by Nicole Sivell, swing, parry, and even roll, to draw the crowd further into the action. Yet despite the gratuitous sword fighting and human skewering, the production offers laughs at every turn.
Sicilia’s Richelieu is a delectably capricious antagonist, dressed in a crimson that would make the devil a distant cousin, is evidently adept at manipulation and sinister planning. Scalia’s Richelieu does not need theatrics to invoke the comedy gods, but rather uses his speech and mannerisms to call upon blessed laughter.
This evil smooth operator is contrasted with Zelny’s King Louis XIII, who is almost the equivalent of a teenage girl who never gets what she wants. Pintar’s Queen Anne is soon revealed to be the far more cool headed one behind the throne and the object of Richelieu’s shady plan.
The production occasionally lacked good timing with actors occasionally appearing on stage or declaring lines before cue, which only added to the delight and amusement of the crowd. The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival’s rendition of “The Three Musketeers” is nothing short of being pointedly funny. You take a stab at it.
“The Three Musketeers” plays July 19, 25, 27 and Aug. 1 and 3. No performance on Thursday, July 24. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Ed’s Note: Jonathan Lee is a Capitol Weekly intern from the Public Affairs Journalism Program of the University of California’s Sacramento Center.