The University drama department’s ambitious production of “The Three Musketeers” sliced and diced its way to glory this weekend, collecting the spoils of audience delight. While there were memorable performances from some familiar faces, the real star in this show was the exciting and dangerous swordplay.
The audience gasped and flinched as two musketeers appeared in the aisle. They heaved with hearty laughter as they sprinted for the stage. As soon as I heard the terrifying clang of their real steel swords, I was on the edge of my seat. I am already uneasy about rapiers, the skinny swords used by the musketeers, as they remind me of syringes.
“My God, someone could get slashed, lose an eye, get run through like a pig!” I thought to myself.
And I loved it. The first major fight made me sweat. D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis are all fighting the cardinal’s guards at the same time with Sabine, D’Artagnan’s sister, weaving around stage.
There is thrusting, parrying, twirling, choreography and comedy. One misstep, one missed beat, one over-zealous blow and someone could get seriously hurt. At one point a musketeer “stabbed” a guard so quickly I thought it nearly reckless by the actor as he had to line up his steel under his opponents arm or risk a real stabbing or at least a good bruising.
That is what I call entertainment.
There were other memorable moments beyond the swordplay. In one scene, the Cardinal, played wickedly deadpan by freshman Seth Long, is slapped so viciously that he really checked his lip for blood. The Duke, played by senior Joey Morningstar, and Queen Anne, played by sophomore Allie Miller, shared the most passionate kiss – er, make out session – I’ve seen in a JBU production. The innkeeper, junior Jeremy Enders, had a hysterical Andy Samberg-esque death scene that hits like an SNL skit. It was amusing to see the innocent, sweet looking junior Rebecca Ridings, who played Sabine, get black-out drunk in the tavern scene and stumble around. And did anyone else think Jessie Daniels’ Porthos was inspired by Star Wars robot C3P0’s effeminate movements and stumbling speech? Maybe that’s just me. Then of course there was the pandering, but chuckle worthy cameo by a certain someone at the end.
The play had some stand out performances. Of course, Michael Bruner as D’Artagnan was wonderfully cast. He had a boyish, earnest presence that didn’t seem forced. And the titular musketeers were all solidly acted as well – especially Ethan Lunow’s Aramis. One performance that may go tragically unnoticed was Shane Buxman as King Louis XIII. I still remember Buxman’s Algernon in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and the freshman has a knack for playing foppish, dandy characters with ease.
The women of “Musketeers” were no slouches either – especially Ridings as Sabine and senior Rachael Moroney as Milady. The two have multiple emotionally charged fight scenes and one almost has to look away as Moroney slowly chokes Ridings with a rosary.
If you have a chance, go see “Musketeers” next weekend if even just for the sword fighting. While the first act drags a tad and the whole play is long, the second act is well worth it.
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