WEST VALLEY CITY – The Three Musketeers is playing at the Hale Centre Theatre. The story feels old. The acting and directing are fair. The design is fantastic. Overall it was fun night at the theatre, but not much more than that.
The story follows the young D’Artagnan immersing himself in the world of the Musketeers as they fight to conceal the infidelity of the Queen. Playwright Ken Ludwig is not a completely unfamiliar name to Utah theatergoers. The Hale recently produced his adaptation of Treasure Island in last season’s lineup and I would not be surprised if their 2011 calendar will feature another Ludwig script. This script does a fine job of conveying the antiquated themes in a framework dotted with clever dialogue that keeps any audience member smiling throughout.
Antiquated themes? Well, perhaps most evident is the elevation of honor and duty over love and faithfulness. Contemporary Utah audiences might be disappointed if they come expecting an adventure mixed with romance: D’Artagnan’s love interest, Constance, dies; Sabine’s longing to marry a musketeer is left unresolved. The only love story that survives the play is between the Queen and…not the King, but her lover, the Duke of Buckingham. No, if you come expecting romance imagine a romance between a man and his rapier amidst a world of violence.
Hale’s production is entertaining. Grand music blankets the performance. Dan Morgan’s sound design heightens the emotion of the show and is a perfect match to Kacey Udy’s set design. The famous million-dollar stage is stunningly appropriate with this production and beautifully accented by Spencer Brown’s lighting design.
The direction for the piece was engaging, but not quite as solid as I expected. Director John Adams truly understands his audience, the script, and the Hale Centre stage. The production moved well and emphasized those elements of the script most accessible to a Utah audience. My only complaint was how quickly the Musketeers seemed to heal throughout the show. It seemed a near fatal wound was cured by just “walking it off” by the end of the scene.
Particularly impressive were the strong female actors cast in the show. Eden Benson as Milady was a beautiful villainess. Each of her scenes was strongly executed. I loved to hate her. Pair that with the very engaging Elise Groves in her role as D’Artagnan’s sister, Sabine, and you have two of the strongest performers from the evening. Groves brought an exciting energy to each scene.
The Musketeers—Michael Hohl, Anthony Lovato, and Jeffrey H. Dickamore—were just as the audience expected them to be: excellent swordsman, popular with the women, and devoted to each other and whomever happened to be the king at the time. Overall they gave pleasing performances, but there was no real depth to their characters.
Finally, Allan Groves played the role of D’Artagnan. His comedic timing was poor, passion was unfounded, and overall character arch was weak. I felt no real danger during the show or any cause to rejoice in the end and I believe that is due to how I received Groves’ performance.
While an entertaining evening, this production of The Three Musketeers at the Hale provides average acting and execution. The highlights of the evening are the beautiful lights/sound/set and talented actresses mentioned above.