Three Musketeers Musical Swashes Into Chicago

News   Three Musketeers Musical Swashes Into Chicago
 
Juan Chioran, Aaron Ramey and Steve Ross are all for one — and one for all — as Athos, Aramis and Porthos in a new production of the musical, The Three Musketeers, starting Dec. 16 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Athos (Juan Chioran), Pathos (Steve Ross) and Aramis (Aaron Rarney) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Three Musketeers
Athos (Juan Chioran), Pathos (Steve Ross) and Aramis (Aaron Rarney) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Three Musketeers Photo by Bill Burlingham

The staging, directed and choreographed by David H. Bell, represents the premiere of a revised version of the swashbuckling musical — an earlier draft was seen in San Jose, CA. The show is drawn from the famous Alexandre Dumas novel, which was serialized 1843-44.

Music is by George Stiles (who penned new songs to London and Broadway's current sensation Mary Poppins and has an international hit with Honk!); book is by Peter Raby; and lyrics are by Paul Leigh. The project's "original concept" is by Bill Hobbes.

Performances will play Dec. 16-Feb. 18, 2007, at CST's Courtyard Theater.

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"The Three Musketeers captures a time when characters are larger than life, speak poetry with wit and charm, and aggressively embrace living, making it a natural choice for a musical," said Bell in a statement. Guided by CST creative producer Rick Boynton, Bell and the creative team have collaborated over the past two years between Chicago, New York, and London, and through two workshops to develop the musical.

"I am delighted that this show is being produced at CST," Bell said. "Everyone's approach to the creation of this adaptation of The Three Musketeers has been filled with such admiration and respect for the exuberant essence of Dumas' original story."

Alexandre Dumas' "timeless epic of heroic adventure, mistaken identity and ill-fated romance chronicles the coming-of-age of D'Artagnan, a gallant, young nobleman who joins three musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis," according to production notes. "Their mission to thwart King Louis XIII's powerful and cunning advisor, Cardinal Richelieu, is deterred by the Comte de Rochefort, the Cardinal's callous henchman, and Milady de Winter, a sinister woman with a mysterious past and a thirst for revenge."

Chioran appeared in Broadway's Kiss of the Spider Woman, the musical, and Toronto's The Producers. Ramey appeared in Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie and recently on tour in Sweet Charity. Ross is a Canadian actor with history at the Stratford Festival and resident Canadian theatres.

Kevin Massey (of Broadway's Tarzan) will play protégé D'Artagnan, Blythe Wilson (recently Nancy of Stratford Festival's Oliver!) is Milady and Jeffrey Baumgartner is Cardinal Richelieu.

The cast also includes, alphabetically, Kevin Asselin as Buckingham; Rebecca Finnegan as Landlady; Neil Friedman as Treville; Terry Hamilton as King Louis; Johanna McKenzie Miller as Queen Anne; Abby Mueller as Constance; Jeff Parker as Rochefort; Brian Sills as Planchet; and Greg Vinkler as Bonacieux. Completing the cast are Brianna Borger, Devin DeSantis, Constantine Germanacos, Karl Sean Hamilton, John Hickman, George Keating, Meg Miller and Jessie Mueller.

Performed by an 11-piece orchestra, George Stiles' music is orchestrated by David Shrubsole and conducted by Dale Rieling.

Mariann Verheyen's 17th-century, period-rich costumes and wigs created by Melissa Veal, characterize the opulent time in which the musketeers lived. Fight choreography is by Kevin Asselin, lighting design is by Don Holder and sound design is by Cecil Averett.

George Stiles and Paul Leigh have previously collaborated on adaptations of Defoe's Moll Flanders and Fielding's Tom Jones. Stiles has also worked with lyricist Anthony Drewe on Honk!, for which they received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical, as well as the stage musicals Just So, Tutankhamun and Peter Pan.

Peter Raby has worked in both television and theatre, adapting Gogol's The Government Inspector for the stage and editing Oscar Wilde's plays for Oxford University Press.

Bell’s work as both director and choreographer of The Three Musketeers marks his fifth subscription series production at CST, having directed As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew to critical acclaim. Bell has earned nine Joseph Jefferson Awards. He has also received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination and two National Endowment Playwriting Fellowships.

What's Dumas' link to Shakespeare?

According to CST, as a young writer in Paris in the 19th century, he was deeply influenced by William Shakespeare's plays, which he saw performed. "Dumas had never seen such naturalness, such vigor and vitality on the stage," Raby said. "He learned from Shakespeare how to create a world with words and how to change the mood of a scene very rapidly."

For more information, visit www.chicagoshakes.com.

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Bell will direct The Three Musketeers at North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA, in summer 2007.

Fight coordinator Kevin Asselin and Devin DeSantis engage in a duel.
Fight coordinator Kevin Asselin and Devin DeSantis engage in a duel. Photo by Michael Brosilow
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