Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

The Three Musketeers: An Adventure, with Music
Ohio Shakespeare Festival
Review by Mark Horning

Also see David's review of Shakespeare in Love

Derrick Winger, Ryan Zarecki, Joe Pine, Tess Burgler,
and Jason Leopold

Photo by Scott Custer
The Ohio Shakespeare Festival never ceases to amaze and delight. This tight group of dedicated young players split their year between live performances during the summer in the Stan Hywet Gardens and winter productions on the sixth floor of Greystone Hall in Akron.

In spite of being perpetually underfunded, this small troupe manages to perform amazing renditions of Shakespearean works as well as a variety of other period pieces. Currently on stage is their world premiere production The Three Musketeers: An Adventure, with Music. The play was written by Joe Pine (who stars as Athos) and is taken from the novel by Alexander Dumas. The cast of eighteen actors in most cases either play multiple roles or have added production duties. To say the least, it is a versatile company that seems to have a lot of fun doing what they do.

D'Artagnan (Tess Burgler) has spent his young life in training to be a musketeer. He has spent years learning fencing, etiquette, proper speech and dance as a youth of noble birth in France. With his father's blessing he has set out to Paris with his servant Planchet (Derrick Winger) to join the king's elite guard. There is just one problem. D'Artagnan has a quick temper that flairs up with even the slightest provocation, putting him constantly in unneeded danger.

On his journey, d'Artagnan forces a duel with Rochefort (Nathan Hoyle) who is captain of Cardinal Richelieu's private guard (sworn enemies of the musketeers). The duel comes about when Rochefort laughs at d'Artagnan's horse. During the duel, Rochefort further humiliates the boy but does not kill him since he is in a hurry. Arriving in Paris, d'Artagnan manages to literally run into the three musketeers (Athos, Aramis and Porthos), challenging each of them to a duel as well.

Before the three can settle their disputes with the young whip, Cardinal Richelieu's guard attacks and tries to capture the three, but with d'Artagnan's help they manage to defeat the superior force and escape. They are later brought before King Louis XIII (Trey Gilpin) and Cardinal Richelieu (Jim Fippin), who tries to convince the king to execute them. Instead, the king is fascinated that young d'Artagnan was able to defeat Richelieu's best swordsman. Queen Anne (Amanda Vigneault) is also impressed and later calls upon the four to retrieve a diamond necklace given to her by the king that she rewarded to her secret lover, the Duke of Buckingham (James Rankin).

While the stage set in the familiar two-tiered construction used in all of Ohio Shakespeare's works, the unique costuming by Marty LaConte, Tara Kodosky, and Nancy Humes truly sets this work apart. Each and every character is decked out to the nines with extensive use of lace and brocade. As for the acting, it is of superior quality along with the many fight scenes choreographed by Ryan Zarecki, who also plays Porthos.

Special kudos to Trey Gilpin as King Louis XIII who takes royal vanity to the highest level; Tess Burgler as d'Artagnan who manages to pull off the roll of young man and superior swordsman with remarkable skill; Derrick Winger as the servant Planchet whose hilarious physical humor and slapstick, along with a running food gag, steal the show; and lastly, the mean three (Jim Fippin as Cardinal Richelieu, Nathan Hoyle as Rochefort and Katie Zarecki as Milady) who play deliciously evil heavies.

Although a familiar tale with nearly a half dozen movie versions, this rendition is quite faithful to the original novel. The music is a wonderful addition that helps move the story along. Most importantly, the various sword fighting scenes are wonderfully believable and expertly choreographed. Bring the entire family and fill the seats for this delight.

The Ohio Shakespeare Festival production of The Three Musketeers: An Adventure, with Music will be on stage at Greystone Hall (103 South High Street, Akron, Ohio) through October 8, 2017, with performances at 7pm. Tickets may be purchased online by going to or by calling (330) 673-8761.

Next up will be Lerner and Loewe's Camelot, running December 1 through December 17.

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