Scripps Howard Wire and Rocky Mountain News
May 5, 2000
Jan Crain Rudeen.

[Follows a review of Batman in a syndicated column which appears in hundreds of newspapers across the country]

... For me, it's a leap of tall buildings, going from the hip Batman Beyond to the world of live children's theater and the 19th century sensibilities of French playwright Alexandre Dumas. Yet, Globalstage's The Three Musketeers intrigued my daughter and her dad in much the same way. At the heart of both stories lie adventure, heroics and good besting evil; and the vast differences in presentation seem to matter little. Performed by Northwest Children's Theater in Portland, Oregon, this videotaped adaptation of The Three Musketeers opens with an older Englishwoman discussing the play with an American boy of 11 or so. They briefly talk about the play's setting (17th century France), and the woman helps the boy define "swashbuckling" full of sneaky schemes, intrigue and romance. Although this pair elicited giggles from various members of my family, the device helped to set the scene. What this production lacks in scenic variety it all takes place on the same stage set it makes up for in the antics of its cast. Young d'Artagnan is all bravado, not provoking fights but eagerly engaging in them all the same. The choreography with swords and daggers is fun and gets even livelier when d'Artagnan links up with the king's renowned guard, the Musketeers. Soon, the Three Musketeers plus one become heroes as they employ trickery and nimble swordsmanship to foil a plot against the queen of France. To create a sense of place of a particular scene, the video camera uses close-ups of one part of the stage set, narrowing the action to a small area. Lighting and costumes and, of course, stage fighting help to keep the eye engaged. But it is the ear that receives the best performance here. The play's language is clever and amusing especially among the Musketeers. Battles are won as much by wits and witty repartee as they are by teamwork and physical endurance. Much of the story missed my preschoolers, but kept my almost-9-year-old (and her parents) interested enough to sit through this nearly 2 ½ hour production. After the play, the Englishwoman and the American come back in to discuss some elements of what they've just seen - including useful explanations of the Protestant Reformation and of why people sometimes are evil. The boy also gets a chance to stage fight with a real sword with help from an actor/choreographer who demonstrates how to avoid getting hurt while making the fight look dangerous. This video does not offer a sugar rush the instant gratification of most modern adventure stories, with their violence, sarcasm, high volume and one-dimensional characters. But for parents and kids who crave a little more meat in their TV viewing, this is a fine production to chew on. Grade:B