En Garde! With tongue-in-cheek and sword-in-hand, Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers scores a theater coup in Denver, opening September 21 for a one-month run.
Adapted for the stage by the Denver Center Theatre Company’s Linda Alper, Penny Metropulos and Douglas Langworthy, the trio has performed an amazing task of condensing the 700-page book into a two-and-a-half-hour play. The result is an immensely entertaining and highly spirited show full of swashbuckling swordsmanship, love triangles, comedy, adventure, intrigue, history and a whole lot of joshing around.
If the large cast seems hard to figure out during the first hour—there are at least a dozen main characters—it all begins to gel when the main plot (among several subplots) emerges: Young D’Artagnan, having just proven himself worthy of becoming a member of the king’s guard and compatriot to three of the Musketeers (“All for one and one for all”), sets out on his first quest from Paris to London to retrieve 12 diamonds the queen gave to her lover the Duke of Buckingham. Then it gets complicated.
What ensues could fill the scripts of three soap operas, but in the context of the French court in the 1600s and its soldiers, it comes with added flair and fancy. The period costumes by B. Modern are outrageous (check out the king’s high-heeled gold shoes), Tom Buderwitz’s set is multifaceted, and the dialogue is witty and jocular. “When we are at war, we will have only men to fear,” says D’Artagnan amidst girlfriend troubles. And, “Women were created for our destruction.” So it comes to past with The Three Musketeers, as it was with Dumas who carried on numerous liaisons during his lifetime.
Gregory Hoffman’s eight fight scenes are so realistic that the swordsmanship (with real swords) seems to improve with the Musketeers consumption of wine. Fencing for any reason and at any time of day was a popular pastime during the 1600s, and anyone who did not join in was considered a coward. There are no cowards in this play.
Veteran Denver Center actor John Hutton masterfully plays a corrupt Cardinal Richelieu, minister to King Louis XIII. Charles Pasternak is spot-on as the stuttering, effeminate king who ascended to the throne when he was only nine. Ben Rosenbaun makes his company debut playing D’Artagnan with the passion of a man seeking his destiny.
The Musketeers were a special force, created in 1600 by France’s King Henri IV as his personal guard. They were armed with carbines (short rifles), which his son Louis XIII later changed to muskets, hence the name Musketeers. At the beginning of the play, the Musketeers are shown to have the adoration that women bestow on firefighters today. They were, indeed, a brave and hardy lot.
The Three Musketeers plays the Stage Theater at the Denver Center for Performing Arts Tuesday-Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Friday-Sunday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. through October 21. For tickets, call 303-893-4100 or visit www.denvercenter.org.
Post-show talkbacks with the cast are scheduled for Oct. 7 and 14. A special talkback with Pastor Dan Bollman of the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Lutheran Synod will examine the show's relevant connections to theology on Oct. 16.