Georgetown Theatre Company The Three MusketeersBy Betsy Marks Delaney • Apr 21st, 2009 • Category: Reviews
The Georgetown Theatre Company
The Shops at Georgetown Park, Washington DC
$15/$12.50 for Groups of 4 or more
Playing through April 26th
Reviewed April 18th, 2009
Question: How do you condense a full-length novel into a scant one-hour performance for four actors? Answer: You’re the impressively talented Bette Cassatt, and you’re “stubbornly determined” to learn the French necessary to translate the novel yourself.
The Three Musketeers, a new adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel, translated and adapted by Ms. Cassatt, provides ample humor, daring swordplay, pathos, intrigue and just a bit of a history lesson as well, all in a terrific, family-oriented and fast-paced production. The play features Ms. Cassatt (D’Artagnan), John Morogiello (Porthos), Ian Blackwell Rogers (Athos) and Erin Steenson (Aramis), 25 characters, 70 costume changes and plenty of swordfights. Each actor brings considerable ability to the many and varied roles portrayed within the span of the production, in a dizzying but never truly frenetic or over the top parade through the events of the story. (So complex is the character swap, it’s impossible to highlight any one role over another!)
Ms. Cassatt, a highly accomplished stage swordfighter, is also director and fight choreographer for this production. Kelly O’Connor, Fine Array and Ms. Cassat have provided the costumes and Chris Mindel rounds the crew out as Sound Designer.
The performance space is an empty storefront with a most convenient balcony and lower level, providing virtually all the set required for telling the story. Devoid of theatrical lighting, traditional seating or even a stage, the cast makes full use of the main floor as well as the balcony, and relies on costumes and narration to set the scene and characters. The performance is steps away from the audience and there is no attempt whatsoever to maintain the fourth wall, bringing everyone watching into the action. Carpet squares are provided for the younger set, as are crayons and coloring sheets.
Of course, it’s not possible to include all the action and intrigue in a novel that’s well over 700 pages, by best estimate, so the cast is quick to point out that the original book is readily available.
This is a fine ensemble piece, with all four actors truly acting “all for one and one for all,” proving that you can produce great theatre anywhere.
The Three Musketeers is a family-friendly show, at a price the whole family can afford, definitely worth braving the trip to the Shops at Georgetown Park on a weekend.
At age 18, D’Artagnan set off to seek adventure and battle the enemies of France. At age 18, I too, found myself in the midst of a battle – only mine wasn’t filled with adventure and swordplay – mine was simply cancer. It was while I was recovering from this unexpected setback that I decided to pursue my long time interest in swordplay – something I had been drawn to since at least the 2nd grade when I saw The Pirates of Penzance.
It was during my stage combat training that I was first introduced to The Three Musketeers. I felt truly inspired by Athos’ greatness of soul, Porthos’ enthusiasm, Aramis’ elegance, and D’Artagnan’s fierce determination. Though it seemed as if I was just tilting at windmills, I decided to translate and adapt the story for stage – with the hope that someday my fight group may get to do it. However, one fact stood in my way: I didn’t know a lick of French. With stubborn determination, I began by looking up every single word in the French/English dictionary until I became more and more proficient in reading French. The result was a full-length play of epic proportions requiring a very large cast.
Later, I was asked by a dear friend of mine (and the artistic director at a theatre at the time) if I could write a version of The Three Musketeers for as few actors as possible – six at most. I thought, “There is no possible way to do this and keep the integrity of the story.” But I couldn’t leave a challenge unanswered, so I went home and wrote a show for four actors – two men and two women. To my surprise, it seemed to work out quite well. The division of characters between the four actors even spoke volumes about the main musketeers.
No matter the translation or adaptation, there seems to be something so enduring about Dumas’ tale. Who can resist such a story of friendship and adventure? So when Catherine Aselford asked me to do this show and to play D’Artagnan, I was delighted at the prospect of getting to play the young hero again. I have been very lucky to get to work with such an amazing cast. I feel as fortunate as D’Artagnan to have found three new friends I admire as much as the young Gascon admired Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
- D’Artagnan: Bette Cassatt
- Porthos: John Morogiello
- Athos: Ian Blackwell Rogers
- Aramis: Erin Steenson
- Director/Fight Direction: Bette Cassatt
- Costumes: Kelly O’Connor, Fine Array, and Bette Cassatt
- Sound Design: Chris Mindel
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3712.
Betsy Marks Delaney is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.