Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Will Porthos share his crossiant with D'Artagnan
The 3 Musketeers is a historical and romantic novel written by Alexander Dumas. In the novel, the French author wrote about high adventure in 1844, highlighting the political twists and turns of the King and Queen's struggle for power at the expense of true love in the 1600s. As a popular and prolific writer, over 200 of Dumas's books have been made into movies.
Natasha Broadstock - Director and Athos - All Photos by Tricia Ziemer
The 1970 movie by Richard Lester inspired local director and actor Natasha Broadstock to adapt this classic tale to the stage with a modern twist and comic overtones. And it has become a beautiful success in the round; that is the round seating of the gracious theatre at the Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray.
All for one and one for all is the Musketeers catch phrase
This round stage floor is elegant simplicity itself but the lighting on the internal walls creates evocative images and brilliant shadows that reflect the dark shadows of the play. Yes, there is tragedy, as well as comic flare, that will steal your heart away even as the sword fighting excites. Natasha creates an intimate and inclusive ambience that draws you further and further into the swashbuckling plot.
The round concept also allows for fun interaction between actors, especially the MC, Scott Jackson, who plays both the musketeer Porthos and The King of France. With a huge lineup of over 13 productions and a Green Room Award Nomination since he graduated in 2008, he can afford to be cheeky and add a bit of bling to his sword belt. He is divine in his dress and loves to show off his finery but not his mistress. Who is she? And will he share his croissant? Romy Sweetnam, Costume Designer (also a director and jewellery maker) has shown her talent to full glam with these wonderful costumes that glint perfection.
Scott is but one of the extremely talented actors this play highlights to their best. The list of these actors' achievements in the Curious Cat Production Program is extensive and worth a read prior to enjoying the show along with a bit of bubbly or a lush red wine and chocolates. All your purchases and your ticket price go toward fundraising to keep this production team going. Well worth it for the feast for the eyes and soul presented to you on the night.
All for one and one for all as the Musketeers battle for their king and country
Natasha's directing and acting career has spanned over 35 years and this show highlights that experience and is a feather in her Musketeer cap. One of the actors slated to star in this lovely production came down ill, and Natasha stepped in as the Musketeer, Athos. It is obvious why she received a Martini Award Nomination for Best Actress for her role in Working Holiday.
But let me not digress from this wonderful production Natasha has written. She has nurtured this play to wonderful fruition, over years, to blend the high drama of Kings and their fight for thrones with modern music embellishes. Intrigued? You should be - it works magnificently.
And her round theme subtlety continues with the actors rounding each other in fights, in their plotting and their passionate kisses. You will be musically "Walking on Sunshine" (Katrina and the Waves) at the comic repertoire of the Musketeer antics. Then despairing with the heartbroken Queen as she laments about the fact that her husband, the King, and the Cardinal fight each other as "Everyone Wants to Rule the World" (Tears for Fears).
But then Natasha was further inspired to ask, "What if I cast outside the usual confines of gender. What if the "damsel in distress" was actually a man. What if a Musketeer or two were played by a woman? ...Isn't gender a facet of character? Isn't playing a gender part of playing a role?"
Jealous reigns between D'Artagnan, Constance and the Duke of Buckingham
And her actors are very much up to both the challenge of their diverse roles as well as the sword fights, the fun, the romance, the evil twists and the heartbreak. You would have thought this would take a cast of almost 20, but it is written, directed, staged and woven so cleverly, the total cast is 8 actors. That is why costume design by Romy Sweetnam is innovative and clever; quick and glam changes are a necessity.
Evil plots empowered by Craig Cremin playing the role of Milady - henchperson for the the Cardinal
This gender role reversal is what originally enticed me to want to see this play. I thought, when does acting skill overwhelm gender to a point that you know longer notice anything but an actor's art. This play and the superb directing makes this concept sing and enriches the twisting tale of the fight for power over the kingdom.
As the show progresses, gender slowly fads away beyond acting talent to "shadows" on the theatre walls. A huge "clap for the talent" for the lighting by John Collopy and Maureen White. It is all finesse.
Actors play many different gender roles leaving shadows of thought
Lore Burns multi-talented actor, composer, and celist lights up the stage with a cheeky attitude of stumbling success and a shocking dress sense in the role of D'Artagnan. Come to France to fight for the King with high hopes of becoming a Musketeer. That all dreamy paths have spills becomes quickly apparent. But strive this artist must to fulfill a dream to become the 4th Musketeer.
The Queen wraps D'Artagnan and her handmaiden Constance into her anguish and heartache for another man, the Duke of Buckingham. She pleads with the young D'Artagnan to save her. The Queen is magnificently played by Victoria Haslam with regal dignity and heart wrenching scenes. She is an artist and performer with considerable dancing finesse.
James Malcher, as Constance the Maid, is caught between loyalty to the Queen and that "first love" with D'Artagnan and keeps ending up in sword fights. With 10 theatre productions behind James, I believe only specialist sword training was needed for this outstanding performance presenting the many faces of one person. Scott Jackson was the fight coordinator for the choreography and whipping of swords and the skill shows.
James Malcher with Angelique Malcolm debate the dangers ahead
The evil Cardinal behind the plot to destroy the Queen is a mysterious shadow who actually never reveals but employs the red frocked, Milady, to do his dirty work. The clever and dastardly Milady is played by Craig Burns. Craig is an international performer including appearances in France, Italy, Egypt and the USA. He seeks revenge on poor D'Artagnan and tries to best him at every turn with his confident Rochefort.
The Cardinal's other evil henchperson is played by Lucy Norton as Rochefort. In real life, when she is not performing in plays, voice overs, films, comedy, and music videos, she treads the boards. In this lively production, she is truly the jack of all trades, voices and genres. Her many roles include swashbuckling with swords, serving up slosh and swearing in brogue. That is when her character is not trying to destabilise the relationship between England and France through sneaky actions.
There is only one way for you to sort through all this intrigue, action, romance and Musketeering to see the finale. You must book right now at www.trybooking.com/VNTC before the show ends on August 11, 2018.
I think we should have a voting app where we can vote for an extended season, because this would be on the top of my list. For the amount of effort, expertise and crafting that has gone into this show, this season is far to short. It is comic, clever, and beautifully presented play and is a must see. It is fast paced and fun and the night speeds faster than the swords. I lay down the challenge, En Garde.