UC Santa Cruz's Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen is one of the few enchanting outdoor venues in Northern California, especially for Shakespearean productions. One would think that the actors' vocalizations of the text would be lost because there are no walls to hold in the acoustics, but this isn't true. And Shakespeare Santa Cruz's (SSC) 2011 production of The Three Musketeers is a perfect example.
SSC's production uses the version written for the 1999 Oregon Shakespeare Festival's by Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy, and Penny Metropulos as adapted from the literary classic written by the legendary French novelist, Alexandre Dumas. Under the stage direction of Art Manke, The Three Musketeers is a fast paced rollicking and frolicking adventure performed at about 2 hours & 15 minutes that includes a 15-minute intermission.
Yet, it doesn't feel the show is over two-hours as the action is non-stop onstage even with all the scenery changes on Michael Ganio's amazing multi-level scene design. The audience is easily engaged in the world of 1626 France with an epic opening as nine Musketeers enter the stage led by Captain de Tréville (played by Phil Hubbard) narrating the life of a Musketeer.
Shortly thereafter the audience is introduced to the humorous & portly Porthos (Kit Wilder) as well as the young D'Artagnan (Leigh Nichols Miller). And not long after that on two separate occasions, D'Artagnan, the "country boy", inadvertently gets into scuffles with Aramis (J. Todd Adams) and Athos (Allen Gilmore). D'Artagnan is challenged to a rapier duel by all three at the same location at three different times. And the action packed and humor filled swashbuckling adventure starts from there.
It is an extraordinary ensemble piece with top notch actors at their best - notably Gilmore, Wilder and Miller. Additionally, the following characters: King Louis (Charles Pasternak); Madame Bonacieux (Sepideh Moafi); Countess de Winter (Katie MacNichol); Queen Anne (Lenne Klingaman); Duke of Buckingham (Erik Heger); Cardinal Richelieu (Richard Ziman); and Count de Rochefort (V. Craig Heidenreich) are excellently portrayed by the respective players. Pasternak, Moafi, MacNichol, Klingaman, and Heger were simply stupendous in all their roles with Pasternak stealing many of the scenes with his flamboyancy and wit.
The technical elements of the show are some of the best this reviewer has seen. Ganio's set design is remarkable with the many elaborate entrances, exits, and even secret compartments. The extravagant costume designs by B. Modern are perfectly done, and Rodolfo Ortega's music and sounds are a delight to hear. Gregory Hoffman's sword fighting choreography is simply awesome with "Flynn" after "Flynn". And even though it was daylight, the lighting design by Peter West was very telling with marvelous transitions.
This production is an amazing achievement for SSC. It should receive many nominations from the theatrical awards committees in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. It is definitely must see entertainment.
The Three Musketeers concludes its run Aug. 25-28 at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. For tickets & production information, call (831) 459-2159 or (831) 459-2121. In addition, the links below provide more detailed information on the show:
2011 SSC Season information: http://www.shakespearesantacruz.org/season/2011_season.php