“The Tree Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas,
published in 1884, is the most famous swashbuckler in literature. Made
into movies more than 20 times, most famously starring Gene Kelly but
also a vehicle for Douglas Fairbanks, Don Ameche, Mickey Mouse, and ---
Barbie? On the stage of the Sutter Street Theatre it has been reimagined
as a hilarious farce by Sacramento playwright Dana Friedman and directed
with emphasis on the action and the laughs by Mike Jimena with fabulous
costumes by Elleen Beaver.
Set in Paris in 1625, as the story opens France is
in turmoil; war with England seems imminent, encouraged by the evil (and
very funny) Cardinal Richelieu (Paul Griesen), who seems to fall asleep
frequently in mid-sentence. The cardinal, with his evil ally Lady de
Winter (Ellen DiFilippo) is attempting to undermine the marriage of the
King (L.J. Lujan) and Queen (Jessica Dardarian) with evidence that the
Queen is carrying on an affair with England’s Duke of Buckingham.
Totally unconcerned with the storm that is brewing,
the Queen’s Musketeers, Athos (Kevin Judson), Porthos (Brian Boil), and
Aramis (Christopher Celestin) are enjoying beer and bread outside a
tavern. Enter country bumpkin D’Artagnan, the most unlikely of heroes
but, it turns out, the greatest swordsman in France, played with
egotistical swagger by Dylan Thuss-Shelley. Dismounting from his horse,
L’il Puddin, D’Artagnan is soon involved in a duel with all three
Musketeers, with whom he joins forces when the bunch of them is put upon
by Cardinal Richelieu’s Guards.
After putting the Guards to rout, the Musketeers
learn that D’Artagnan has come to Paris to become one of them. They
decide to let him hang around when their landlady (Mary Comstock)
enlists them to find her daughter Constance, who has been kidnapped by a
mysterious Man in Black. Constance (the charming Jennifer Melikian), one
of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, knows of the Queen’s affair and has
been abducted to prevent her spoiling the plot against the Queen.
The plot and Constance’s role in it are too complex
to spell out here. Constance is soon rescued by D’Artagnan (he calls her
Connie), the two fall in love, and the plot is foiled, the royal
marriage saved, and D’Artagnan gets his wish fulfilled, all in ways too
hilarious to spoil.
In addition to being one of the funniest shows you
will see this year, Sutter Street’s version of “The Three Musketeers” is
very educational about life and customs in 17th Century
France. You will, for example, learn the answers to these questions:
When you ride your horse into Paris and dismount, what do you do with
your horse? If you eat in a French restaurant whose specialties are
French Fries and French Toast, but you’d rather have fast food, what can
you order? If you lose your sword during a ferocious sword fight, what
would be an alternative weapon of choice? What does a Cardinal wear
under his robes? What is the odor of the Cardinal? Who is the mysterious
Man in Black? (The answer is sure to surprise you!)
What you won’t learn: What is a Musketeer anyhow?
and Why are there only three—or sometimes four?
If you enjoy plays that are geared for family fun,
the reasons you should see this show with your kids are that the
slapstick and the action-packed swordfights will delight the children,
and there are many adult jokes that will make you laugh out loud.