Update: The March 20 and 21 performances of The Three Musketeers have been postponed, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Three Musketeers, adapted from the book by Alexandre Dumas, at the Parker Theatre is a show worth seeing alone, with a date, or with the whole family. The show is chock full of action and excitement, from the fight scenes to the intrigues, and from fair maidens in distress, to up and coming heroes. There is plenty for all to enjoy.
The Three Musketeers is set in 17th century France when King Louis the XIII was on the throne as a young man facing the growing influence of Cardinal Richelieu. The musketeers are the king’s personal bodyguards, and the story follows a young man named d’Artagnan, as he seeks to join the ranks of the musketeers and protect king and country.
James Parker designed a set with lamps and musketeer flags hanging from the side walls and ceiling, which all created a very fitting style to the show and brought the proper mood to the theater before the play even started. Parker did a great job with the moving high stage to provide variety to the staging, as performers had scenes underneath it and on top of it. The large set piece even moved forward and back during a fight scene that was very cleverly balanced and impressive to watch. I also enjoyed the lighting for the explosion, which James Parker also designed in his capacity as lighting designer.
Thanks to the direction from Joanne M. Parker, The Three Musketeers was a delightful show to watch because she knew just how to place everyone. From the start she had Cardinal Richelieu (played by Brinton Wilkins) on a high stage balcony, and his intimidating performance sent a chill down my spine. I loved the director’s use of the space, having characters coming from all different angles and directions, keeping the sense of chaos as it built to the story’s climax. Joanne M. Parker arranged the ensemble as well, and it was fun to watch the interactions between the main characters and the others on stage, such as when the latter would get in the way of the character’s path, or grumble about the carelessness of people fighting. Each ensemble member was well cast, and they were all fantastic actors.
Wilkins was a fine performer and did a wonderful job as the bad guy, acting as if he was being merciful—and then with a few words twisted it all around. He had the slinky silkiness of a snake in the way he talked to Louis XIII to keep the king under his wing. Furthermore, he was awfully creepy toward the women he conversed with, which was well portrayed with his body language and tone of voice.
The play’s hero, D’Artagnan (played by Luke Vayo), experienced a wonderful transition from ill-mannered scoundrel to passionate protector, respectful of all. Vayo expressed this character arc well, and though a bit loose on his facial focus, he had a good energy about him. I overheard that he had bonked his head right before the show and was wearing a protective wrap made to look like a headband. Surprisingly, the costume addition fit his character well. (The head injury might also explain Vayo’s distracted demeanor throughout the show.) By far my favorite performer was Bryson Dumas as Porthos. Perhaps it was because he had the best lines like, “Fat men can fight!” and when trying to hang a lamp, “Can you help? I’d too short.” He had a boisterous laughter that was perfect for his character, I thought he had stepped right out of the classic movie.
Spencer Hohl, who played Aramis, was also in charge of fight directing, and put Vayo and the others through the wringer. The sword fights were so energetic that I often worried a sword would go flying offstage and stab someone. Still, the fighting was varied and playful at times, which was delightful to watch.
The costumes (by Julie Anderson and Cathy Maurer) were beautiful, especially the dresses for Queen Anne (played by Katie Jones), which had intricate bead work and long white tresses. The musketeer chest flaps looked dashing, making the trio of musketeers uniform. I was also amazed at all the tiny bits of hanging things on Wilkins’s cardinal costume. These elaborate additions ( much more than just a rosary) made Richelieu look so much more intimidating and important.
Despite my fear of a sword coming at me, I am glad I came to see The Three Musketeers. I enjoyed the mystery as it unfolded, the intrigue and evil plans, and the leisurely intermission (perfect for running next door to the mom-and-pop soda fountain next door for a tasty snack). The Three Musketeers is definitely a must-see (though make sure that your kids are at least 6 years old). The show has all the fun of the movie but when the story is live, the excitement is amped up and is a show destined to knock your socks off.