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Parents, have we got a play to take your teens to: THE THREE MUSKETEERS at Shea’s 710 Theatre, through November 18

THE BASICS: THE THREE MUSKETEERS, adapted by Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy, and Penny Metropolis from the Alexandre Dumas classic, presented by “All for One Productions” (Irish Classical Theatre Company, MusicalFare, Road Less Traveled, Theatre of Youth and Shea’s Performing Arts Center), directed by Chris Kelly, runs through November 18, at Shea’s 710 Theatre, 710 Main Street (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.org  Full service bar, great snacks, beautiful theater with perfect sightlines throughout. Recommended for ages 12+ Runtime: a little under three hours with one intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  Freely adapted from Playscripts.com: Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel set in 1625 gets an adventurous update in this tale of friendship and romance which follows young D’Artagnan as he arrives in Paris to seek fame, fortune, and a place among the King’s Musketeers. He is taken under the wing of three of them – Athos, Aramis, and Porthos, and soon D’Artagnan finds himself helping the Queen (to hide an affair with a British Duke) while managing to make an enemy of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu. When D’Artagnan’s love, Constance, is kidnapped out of revenge by the mysterious “Milady,” D’Artagnan and the rest of the Musketeers must work together to rescue Constance and restore honor in the kingdom. THE THREE MUSKETEERS is that classic genre known as “swashbuckling adventure” with plenty of sword-fighting, romance, courage, and bromance-buddy unity showing us the meaning of “all for one and one for all.”

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: What an assemblage of Buffalo acting talent! This classic tale of swashbuckling adventure stars Patrick Cameron as D’Artagnan, the hot-headed newbie, with Anthony Alcocer, Steve Copps, and Christopher Avery as The Three Musketeers. The entire cast is fit, agile, and “easy on the eyes” no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. The ladies also have resumes as long as your arm and include Cassie Cameron as the Queen and others, Melinda Capeles Rowe as Mademoiselle D’Asree and others, Renee Landrigan as Constance, and Kate Loconti as Milady, so, rest assured, you’re in good company with this company. Other roles are taken by Shakespeare in Delaware Park actors and Theatre of Youth’s “The Shakespeare Stealer” actors, so these are guys who can buckle some swash with the best of them, including Fisher, Chris Hatch, Jordan Levin, Lamont Singletary, Nick Stevens, and Adam Yellen. And there’s newcomer Adam Rath and eminence gris Peter Palmisano as the sinister Cardinal Richelieu. As I said, what a cast.

The direction is by Artie Award winning Chris Kelly, with fight choreography by Steve Vaughn. The costumes by Dixon Reynolds and Kenneth Shaw are ornate and worthy of any period piece as are the hair, wigs, and make-up designed by Susan Drozd.

Here’s the takeaway: If you have children or grandchildren in 7th through 12th grade, and you are eager to have them look up from their mobile phones and see what (affordable) live theater is all about, this is your show. Reportedly, school groups attending this play are loving it. And that’s great, because, while Theatre of Youth had a hand in this production, and they do occasionally put on shows for teens, for the most part it’s a demographic in need of offerings.

If you have children or grandchildren in 7th through 12th grade, and you are eager to have them look up from their mobile phones and see what (affordable) live theater is all about, this is your show.

So much for the good stuff. Now, on to the bad, which can be summed up with one old maxim: “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” I wasn’t there, so I don’t know, but one can imagine that each artistic director from each of the five presenting theaters had his or her own take on how this show should look, and, after compromising (or not, who knows?) the end result did not reflect a clear, single purpose.

But the real problem is the script. It too was written by a committee, and it is a hodgepodge. We change scenes too rapidly, characters aren’t developed, their motivations are one-dimensional, there’s too damn many sub-plots, and the ending is, while perhaps somewhat true to the book, not satisfying for a matinee audience.

So I’m glad that the beautiful and upgraded Shea’s 710 Theatre is being used and if it takes the combined efforts of five theaters to make that happen, that’s one thing, but this just wasn’t the best play to inaugurate this collaboration.

UP NEXT: MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLY at Shea’s 710, but each of the venues has a show coming up, so check out the websites for the Irish Classical Theatre Company, MusicalFare, Road Less Traveled, Theatre of Youth, and Shea’s Performing Arts Center (which is offering more than HAMILTON).

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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