From the first look at Ian Martens’ terrifically-designed set for Red Deer College’s rendition of The Three Musketeers, it’s clear audiences are in for a unique theatrical experience.
All kinds of set pieces hang from the ceiling, meshing with the elaborately designed and extremely efficient stage arrangements – it speaks of a unique vision and serves as an inviting entry into Alexandre Dumas’ classic story that’s packed with strong performances and swashbuckling drama.
The production is currently running through to Feb. 15 on the Arts Centre mainstage, with curtain at 7:30 p.m. A weekend matinee is slated for Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. as well.
Director Thomas Usher, RDC theatre performance and creation instructor, has captured much of the ‘youthful exuberance, impulsive romance and constant action’ that forms the foundation of much of the story. Scenes move along quickly – there’s rarely a quiet moment – and students are clearly committed to the project.
Particularly outstanding is the likable Tyler Johnson in the central role of D’Artagnan, who heads from rural France to the mysteries and irresistible allure of Paris to fulfill his dream of becoming a Musketeer. He brings along his gusty and irrepressible sister Sabine – Brittany Martyshuk – who is supposed to attend a Parisian school but has a raw drive to dive directly into the action that has swallowed up her brother as well once they hit the ‘City of Lights’.
Joining the Musketeers – Athos, Porthos, and Aramis – D’Artagnan races to defend the honour of the Queen of France against the evil, cunning Cardinal Richelieu, played with a kind of fierce, intimidating charm by Richard Leurer.
Rounding out the Musketeers themselves are Chase Cownden as Athos, Wayne Deatley as Aramis and Bret Jacobs as Porthos – each do a terrific job in their singular roles and as a tightly-knit group of dedicated comrades.
Other performances that really stood out include Constance Isaac as ‘Constance’ – the sunny, sweet-natured girl that D’Artagnan finds himself in love with. On the other end of the spectrum, Megan Einarson is perfectly cast as the wicked Milady, working on behalf of the manipulative Cardinal. Einarson isn’t afraid to really dig into her role and flesh it out – she isn’t just a cardboard villain either. There is more to her story than is evident at first, and Einarson nails the complexities of her role superbly.
Usher has wisely emphasized lots of movement as the story moves along – plenty of sword fighting which the students handle solidly for the most part. The actors maneuver through a whopping 16 fight sequences in the production, having been deftly guided by Calgary-based Laryssa Yanchuk.
There were a few clunky, slow spots early in the play’s run, but there is no question the pace and polish will grow as the run continues through to this weekend.
Ultimately, as Usher pointed out in an earlier interview, The Three Musketeers is propelled by the enthusiasm and energy of young men and women who are driven by their ideals and the belief that the just are rewarded and the evil are punished.
In some ways, the plot isn’t the most compelling to be sure. But the tale’s enduring popularity rests on those aforementioned universal elements. Not to mention the good old-fashioned adventure and fun that surfaces continually.
Tickets are available through www.bkticketcentre.ca or by calling 403-755-6626 or toll free at 1-800-661-8793. Families can take advantage of the family discount and groups of 12 a special group rate.