In keeping with the high standards Managing Artistic Director Marcus Walker has established, the Lakewood Playhouse’s current production of “The Three Musketeers” ranks high on the list of quality entertainment.
This swashbuckling saga of love, intrigue and deception is as thrilling now as in 1844 when Alexandre Dumas wrote it.
“One for all and all for one!” from Lakewood Playhouse’s current production of “The Three Musketeers.” From left, Christian Doyle as Athos, Brian Lewis as D’Artangnan, Scott Brown as Porthos and Jeff Hansen as Aramis. Photo by Dean Lapin
A regular contributor to the Playhouse, Erin Chanfrau’s adaptation of the classic tale is enhanced by her elegantly simplistic set design and Frances Rankos’ costume design. Director Scott Campbell brings it all to life assisted by Fight Director Bob Borwick. Between them, they deftly handle the basic problems of sword wielding actors within a foil’s length of enthralled audience members with gracefully choreographed fight scenes.
Sporting a cast of 18 doing close to 30 roles, there are times when the stage gets a bit crowded. However, because of Campbell’s direction and the actors’ ease of movement, the audience never feels compromised.
This play has more scenes than you can shake a proverbial stick at — but the audience is never lost for location or time lapses. One striking example is when Comtesse de Winter is in her cell — the lights dim, wooden blocks beat off each second, the lights come up, she is in a different position, down again, up again, and so on. The audience feels the passage of days.
This is a strong cast. Each actor firmly establishes character — even those with minor and multiple parts are so chameleon-like, it takes a minute to realize they have been seen before in a different role.
These include Eric Grimes as Jussac and John Felton, Val Kirkwood as D’Artangnan’s mother, Mme d’Astree and Mme Coquenard, Dave Van Arnam as M. Bonacieux and a cardinal’s guardsman, Josh Johnson and Emily Olson who pop up here and there in various garb. All show alacrity and acting prowess.
Luke Amundson is a regal Louis XIII; Vanessa Clayton is suitably love-forlorn as Queen Anne and dutiful as the Abbess; Austin Farwell is stalwart as the queen’s illicit lover, the Duke of Buckingham. Julie Haakenson is vampish and conniving as de Winter; Tiffani Schmidt is a feisty Constance Bonacieux who loves her queen and D’Artangnan but not her husband. Frank Thompson is powerful as de Treville, captain of the musketeers who bears an uncanny resemblance to D’Artangnan’s father.
Marty Mackenzie is striking as Cardinal Richelieu; he plays him with graceful pomp and sleazy undertones. Richard Emerson is an imposing figure as de Rochefort, the captain of the cardinal’s guard; he turns in an admirable performance.
Donavon Johnson is Planchet, D’Artangnan’s newfound servant. It is a delight to watch his comic machinations. He is all over the stage, as deftly serving beverages as thwarting foil-wielding guardsmen attacking his master — very nice job.
Christian Doyle is Athos, Jeff Hansen plays Aramis, Scott Brown is Porthos and Brian Lewis is the fourth musketeer, D’Artangnan.
It is difficult to determine any difference in the acting skills of this quartet. Each is unique in his demeanor, taking on the persona of the individual characters. Doyle is steadfast and humorous. Hansen is pious and humorous. Brown is ruckus and humorous. Lewis is serious, determined, foolish and — humorous. All four are excellent actors who are quite comfortable with the ungainly costumes and swordplay.
“The Three Musketeers” is a well-mounted production, directed with imagination and acted with panache. It is truly suitable for the whole family. In fact, with the quick-paced action and sword wielding, even the youngest little leaguer will applaud the performance.
“The Three Musketeers” continues at the Lakewood Playhouse each Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through June 18 with a Pay-What-You-Can night Thursday, May 25. For reservations or more information, call the theatre at (253) 588-0042.
The Lakewood Playhouse is located in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, next to the Pierce Transit terminal.
Submitted by Lynn Geyer