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“THE THREE MUSKETEERS,” Utah Shakespeare Festival, through Sept. 8, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, 195 W. Center St., Cedar City (435-586-7878 or bard.org); running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes (one intermission)
CEDAR CITY — Utah Shakespeare Festival’s “The Three Musketeers” hits the ground running as two men race up and down the aisles in a heated sword fight, often leaning over the guardrails and almost in the laps of audience members.
It sets a swift tone that is maintained throughout the play, which was adapted in 2006 from Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale by playwright Ken Ludwig. But while the clipping pace maintains interest, it also comes with costs.
D’Artagnan has spent his whole life hearing of his father’s epic adventures as a member of the king’s musketeers, but now it’s his turn. As he’s about to embark on his journey to Paris to fulfill his dream, his father insists that he take his younger sister with him on his journey and accompany her to school. Soon, D’Artagnan and his sister find themselves in the middle of a political tussle with the chance to work with the Three Musketeers to save the queen from scandal.
Ludwig’s adaptation is clever as it takes a largely comical approach to the story. While the entire production is fast-paced, the first act contains more character development, which leaves a lot of plot to cover in the second half and results in a hasty marathon to the conclusion.
There are elaborate sword fights aplenty that benefit from the skilled choreography of fight director David Woolley, and the actors handle the challenge with seeming ease.
Luigi Sottile as D’Artagnan is a clumsy go-getter out to achieve his dreams, and he manages his comedic timing well enough.
J. Todd Adams, Todd Denning and Tasso Feldman as the Three Musketeers — the tough Athos, the self-absorbed Porthos and the Bible-quoting Aramis, respectively — are well cast in their varying roles and work well as a trio.
Sceri Sioux Ivers as Sabine is the spunky, quintessential little sister, tagging along for all the excitement, pulling faces at her older brother and calling him by the pet name “D’Arty.”
Some of the production’s most comical details come with the appearances of King Louis XIII (Ben Livingston). Livingston’s Louis encapsulates an adolescent attitude in a grown man’s body. At times, he’s playing chess with oversized chess pieces, kicking them over angrily as if they were real people. Other highlights are his beekeeping attire — complete with a crown — and his passion for menu and party planning.
The scenery lacks creativity as it mostly consists of the same blue and yellow fleur-de-lis pattern splattered everywhere, but costume designer David Kay Mickelsen has created costumes — especially those of King Louis XIII and Queen Anne — that are detailed and stunning.
Comedy is this production’s calling card, so anyone looking for a night full of silly antics and a good laugh should be sure to include it in their USF schedule.
Content advisory: A few instances of mild sexual innuendo.
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