Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Theater Review: The Three Musketeers -- CT Repertory

Marisa Desa and Anthony Goes. Photo: Gerry Goodstein 
By Lauren Yarger
It’s the age-old story: young D’Artagnan (Will Haden) arrives in Paris looking for adventure and to pursue his father’s place as one of the king’s special guard. He is befriended by The Three Musketeers, Athos (Thomas Brazzle), Porthos (Anthony J. Goes) and Aramis (James Jelkin) and soon finds himself in the middle of swashbuckling swordfights, treason and romance.

It lends itself to super staging and exciting theater, but the adaptation by Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy and Penny Metropulos, from the novel by Alexandre Dumas and getting a run over at CT Repertory at UConn’s Jorgensen Theatre, gets bogged down in details. Except for exciting fight scenes staged by Director Tony Simotes and Greg Webster, its pace is too slow and its focus too disjointed for us to start yelling, “One for All and All for One!”

The very large cast is made up mostly of acting students. Three Equity actors lend their talents to the production: “triple threat” Alexander Sovronsky who plays Captain de Treville, the Duke of Buckingham and composes original music for the production, Goes as Porthos and Rocco Sisto, who seems often to be reaching for his lines, as the evil and conniving Cardinal Richelieu.

Haden offers an exuberant D’Artagnan who falls in love lady-in-waiting Constance Bonacieux (Sarah Wintermeyer), who unfortunately already has a husband (a humorous Darak Burkowski). They have a nice chemistry, but the camaraderie among the musketeers never seems to gel. The scenes where D’Artagnan wins the loyalty of the other three don’t ring true.

Meanwhile, King Louis XVIII (Coles Prince) is portrayed as an effeminate buffoon. We fully understand the disgust of his queen, Anne (Khetanya Henderson), and her continued liaison with her former beau, the Duke of Buckingham (also well played by Sovronsky).

Unfortunately, in this tale, we’re not supposed to be on the same side as Cardinal Richelieu and his accomplice in treason, Milady de Winter (Olivia Saccomanno), when it comes to our thoughts about the king. More often than not the king in The Three Musketeers is portrayed as a shy, young boy, who is manipulated by Richelieu and we root for the Musketeers to protect him and the throne. Vive La France!! But this interpretation of the king doesn’t even inspire an “en guarde!.” Prince does a fine job delivering the character as he has been directed to, as a neglectful, self -indulgent fool, however. His comic talent causes us to laugh while we are hoping he will be deposed when he ballet dances to make an exit….. It’s not the performance, but the role as written that disappoints.

For me this tale seemed more about details of plot and trying to be historically accurate and my interest waned. The beautifully detailed, plush costumes designed by Fan Zhang accomplish this, as do the nicely styled wigs and hair, but a very dull, grey-black skeleton frame set with unfinished arches against a grey background (designed by Posy Knight) takes its cue from a dull script rather than from the splendors of the Parisian court which might have helped light up this production. Lighting Designer Sean Nicholl does create a red hue for scenes when the cardinal is plotting away at his devilish schemes to add a bit of color.

Noteworthy among the performances is Harry Eifenbaum as D’Artagnan’s servant Planchet. He takes a small part and makes it memorable with each flip of his feather duster. Similarly, Susanna Resnikoff, as a jeweler named Reilly, gets some of the biggest laughs with a few well delivered “Hmmmms.”

Performance times vary for this run because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so check with the box office to schedule your visit. I did leave before the full two-hour-and-45-minute run was done, because my theater companion was feeling unwell and needed to get home. Stick it out and let me know whether your allegiance for the king shifted and you left the theater yelling, “all for one!” at the end after all.

The show runs through Dec. 8 at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre. Tickets $7-$37: 860-486-4799;; box office in the Nafe Katter Theatre, 820 Bolton Rd.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)
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