“The 3 Musketeers,” the Alexandre Dumas classic, is a story that has numerous incarnations since it was written in 1844. There have been numerous film adaptations, including the 1993 Disney film starring Chris O’Donnell, Oliver Platt, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, and Tim Curry. Presented by All for One Theatrical Productions at Shea’s 710 Theatre, a stage adaptation has taken the Buffalo theater scene by storm.
. . .a successful inaugural production for All for One Theatrical Productions. . .
First and foremost, the fact that this production has been mounted at all is a success for Buffalo theater. All for One Theatrical Productions is a collaboration of five titans of the Buffalo theater industry: Irish Classical Theatre Company, MusicalFare Theatre, Road Less Traveled Productions, Shea’s 710 Theatre, and Theatre of Youth. The collaboration celebrates the ongoing effort by Buffalo theaters to join the current renaissance in Buffalo, and Mayor Byron Brown and his wife were in the audience of last evening’s packed opening performance.
Chris Kelly is at the directorial helm of this monstrous production, featuring some of Buffalo’s premier talent. It is significant that Kelly is directing, as he’s able to pull the best out of what is, in my opinion, an almost unredeemable script. The adaptation by Linda Alper is awkward to say the least, with almost no development for any of the principal characters. Enter Kelly, aided by dramaturg Katie Mallinson, and the story becomes enjoyable. The real strength of the production, however, lies in the masterful swordfights, choreographed by Steve Vaughan. Every actor has a part of these massive brawls, and each actor shines in Vaughan’s inventive and informed choreography.
Patrick Cameron is this production’s D’Artagnan, the young Gascon who desires to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Musketeer. He understands the balance of brashness, blind desire for justice, and a spirit of camaraderie that are essential to the portrayal and has significant charm to boot. As the titular Musketeers, Christopher Avery, Anthony Alcocer, and Steve Copps command the stage and embrace each character’s specific personification. Avery is the philosopher Athos, who has a dark and storied past that has made him cynical in his wit. He carries the subtext well, supplementing the somewhat lacking textual development. Alcocer is Aramis, the Musketeer who aspires to become a priest but is held back by his corporal passions. Alcocer plays the duality, with a specifically capable handling of a scene in the second act at a monastery, where he insists he’s staying committed to becoming a Jesuit…until D’Artagnan shows him letters from the women he’d left behind. Copps embodies the braggart Porthos with ease. He’s a master of comedy, using the somewhat out of place asides to the audience to his advantage. The three, along with Cameron, are not only experts at presenting camaraderie, but convincing Musketeer swordsmen. As their captain, however, Fisher leaves a little to be desired by way of vocal clarity and diction; his booming voice could easily fill the space, but he does not make use of it nearly enough.
In villainous turns, Chris Hatch and Kate LoConti are strong as Rochefort and Countess de Winter, respectively. Hatch is the Cardinal’s muscle and handles that role well, intimidating the Musketeers with his swordplay and the overarching power of the Cardinal. LoConti has a knack for mysterious women on stage and does nearly all the work by way of character development herself. As Cardinal Richelieu, Peter Palmisano is strong. You can tell he has an agenda, but he isn’t telegraphing his agenda to the audience; there’s no mustache twirling here. Perhaps my favorite performance of the night, though, comes by way of Jordan Levin. Levin has proven himself a versatile actor in the past, but he really excels in this production. His King Louis is comedic mastery, a romp through scenes laced with foppery and an understanding that the world yields to him, but he brings some humanity as well.
Ultimately, this production entertains despite the script’s weaknesses, and it’s a successful inaugural production for All for One Theatrical Productions. If anything, the success is stronger due to Kelly and his cast transcending the piece itself and presenting an entertaining and compelling night of theater. It runs through November 18th at 710. The production was 2 hours and 45 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.