Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review - The Three Musketeers (Play)

I was very excited to see The Three Musketeers on the schedule over at Hale Centre Theatre this year. I've always enjoyed adventure stories like this one with the swordplay and the intrigue. I've seen numerous movie versions of the show and really enjoy them. My favorite movie production is the version Disney put out many years ago…they had a stellar cast which I absolutely loved and the writing and directing was a lot of fun.

So anyway, when we got our tickets and arrived at Hale, I was excited for a fun filled night. Generally speaking, that's what I got, although I must sadly say I was a little let down. Part of that was that I wanted the repartee of Tim Curry, the interactions between Keifer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Oliver Platt or even the goofy but fun Chris O'Donnell. But even distancing myself from the movie version, there were still a number of points where I was less than satisfied.

Right from the beginning, the swordplay was done pretty well and it set the tone for the rest of the show. The choreography on the sword fight was good, but it felt a little forced and over-the-top (even for a stage production).
I'm sure part of the intent was to give us audible investment as well as visual, but the various grunts/huffs/groans/etc of the actors felt a little distracting (almost cheesy).

Even outside of the swordplay, the general mannerisms and line presentation sometimes had a little too much passion behind it. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the enthusiasm and the energy the actors gave, but sometimes it felt like too much for the scene they were presenting.

As we got into the dialog and general interaction, I was quickly worried that the forced accents (not quite sure of the intended nationality of some of them) would become distracting. Most of the time they didn't, but there were sometimes when the dropping of an "R" or the presentation of a "soft A" felt a little strained and made me wish that they would all just speak "american." If an accent sounds forced, it's distracting and breaks the illusion. It's easier for me to believe no accent than a strained french/english/european accent. If it's not sounding natural, don't do it.

My other qualm with the show is something I'm not sure how they could best avoid…but I had hoped they would. For those who have been to Hale, you know they have a moderate sized stage "in the round." For those familiar with The Three Musketeers, you'll realize that it is a story that takes place in a wide variety of locations often involving a lot of action. Unfortunately these two elements combined for, what I felt to be, a LOT of transitions that sadly broke up the momentum. There were a TON of "fade to black" moments…lots of very short scenes followed by a quick fade to black for prepping another short scene followed closely by another fade to black. Overall, I think they did a good job working with what they had to work with…I'm not sure the best way to overcome this, but there were a few times when the energy and tension just fell apart for me as we faded to black and waited a few seconds for the next part of the action.

I honestly feel a little bad being so negative in this review…I've seen quite a few shows at Hale and have really loved them. I certainly admire the cast and crew for putting on another stellar show. While I have some complaints about the way it played out, I don't want anyone to think I am degrading their talent, skills, or resources. With all of the great shows I've seen at Hale (and I'll continue to go there), I was a little let down and felt like this was one time where they failed to meet my expectations.

I still enjoyed the story and this has rekindled my desire to read the book. I enjoyed the production but if I had it to do again, I would likely save the money to purchase tickets to a different show and instead go watch the movie. The show plays for another week though there were rumors they were sold out. Still, if you happen to go see it (or if you've already seen it), let me know what you think. I'd be curious to hear other people's opinions.

2.5 out of 5 stars

(NOTE: All images taken from Hale Centre's flickr photostream)


Brian Miller said...

eh...too bad it could not have been done better...i am a huge fan of Dumas...

Unknown said...

I loved that story. We had it in School skits.

logankstewart said...

What a bummer. My wife loves the book and would probably like to see something like this live.

Okie said...

Yeah, I was bummed...we only get out to plays a few times a year and this particular theatre is a little further away than our local theatre and it costs ~2-3 times as much on I was extra bummed that the experience wasn't as stellar as we'd hoped.

I was considering going back for their production of Drowsy Chaperone in October or else Tale of Two Cities next spring.

We'll still probably give them another chance as we've seen a lot of really good shows there and this is the first one that fell a little flat. It was still good, just not as good as we'd hoped.