The Three Musketeers Are Foiled
Apart from adding the character of a tomboyish sister Sabine for D'Artagnan, and reducing the role of Constance to a glorified cameo part, Ludwig's condensation of the familiar story of intrigue set in and around the court of King Louis XIII is pretty much CliffsNotes Dumas, as D'Artagnan joins forces with the Musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis against the wily Cardinal Richelieu. Ludwig tosses in a fair deal of anachronistic contemporary language, but he might have been better off going the Mel Brooks route and just spoofing the hell out of the tale. I would so like to say that the sword fights were at the very least rousing, but aside from one instance in which torches were also employed in the action, I felt little heat from the numerous displays staged by Fight Director Rick Sordelet.
In the pivotal role of D'Artagnan, Andrew William Smith is blandly boyish and never really believable as a worthy fourth Musketeer and, with the trimming down of the role of Constance, his romantic scenes fall flat as wellthough Jennifer Sue Johnson is a winning presence as his doomed sweetheart. As for the titular trio, Hans Altwies' Athos is the most fully realized and commanding, respectably supported by Ryan Shams' rascally Aramis and Jeffrey Bender's rousing Porthos. Montana Von Fliss is so beguiling as Sabine that one wishes Ludwig had concocted a more interesting dynamic for her character, particularly in her relationship with her brother D'Artagnan. Cheyenne Casebier is a satisfyingly venal Milady, Jim Abele crafts a subtly evil Cardinal Richelieu, and Shawn Law makes a droll comic villain out of Rochefort. Alban Dennis flounces about giddily as King Louis, and Ellen Karas subtly underplays his unfaithful Queen.
John Arnone has designed plenty of colorful and varied scenery, and Nan Cibula-Jenkins' costume designs are often gorgeous and always apt. Composer Wayne Barker deserves a nod for his often bracing musical score.
The Rep was clearly looking for a big escapist hit with The Three Musketeers, but it misses the mark more often than it scores, and most of the blame in this case lies squarely with Ken Ludwig, and whoever thought his take on the story was worth mounting.
The Three Musketeers at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, runs through November 9. For more information, visit www.seattlerep.org.