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“All for one and one for all” is best known as the motto of classic literature’s intrepid Three Musketeers. It might well as be the motto of Napa Valley College’s Jennifer King, as it also describes the approach she takes to mounting NVC’s fall production, which just happens to be the Ken Ludwig adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers.” King, whose work is very ensemble oriented, has gathered twenty-plus members of the Napa Valley College community – theatre majors, students of other disciplines enrolled in a theatre class and guest artists from the North Bay theatrical community – to create an enjoyable afternoon’s bit of escapist entertainment.
Ludwig’s script (which probably owes as much to the numerous film versions of the story as the story itself) compresses the action and adds a major character but hits all the familiar plot points. D’Artagnan (Miles Ainley) leaves the French Countryside to join the King’s Musketeers. On the way, he runs afoul of Athos (David Yen), Porthos (Kenny Bernal) and Aramis (Juan Salcito) and finds himself accepting three consecutive challenges. Their duels are interrupted by Rochefort (Merrick Yra), guard to the influential Cardinal Richelieu (Chris Ginesi). Soon finding themselves fighting together and enjoying each other’s company, the Musketeers band with D’Artagnan to foil the villainous Richelieu’s plot to topple the King (Kevin Rebultan).
Performed on a minimalist set, if you come to the show expecting the opulence of a King’s palace or the claustrophobic streets of 17th century Paris, you might be disappointed. If you come expecting glorious costuming and voluminous sword play, then you will be amply rewarded. Pamela Johnson dresses the cast colorfully and to period. Fight choreographer Richard Pallaziol has several well-staged scenes, including one that appears to involve every member of the cast.
Speaking of the cast, when it comes to college productions you have to allow for the fact that many in the company may have little to no stage experience and you should expect to see a range of performances. King’s cast actually acquitted themselves quite nicely, with Miles Ainley more than up to handling a lead role. Kenny Bernal and Juan Salcito were paired with North Bay stage veteran David Yen and held their own. Narrow Way Stage Company’s Chris Ginesi cut quite an imposing figure in his red velvet Cardinal’s robe, but never more so than when paired with Kevin Rebultan’s diminutive King Louis XIII. Rebultan’s King was quite a hoot and provided many of the evening’s laughs. Ginesi was also frequently paired with Merrick Yra’s Rochefort, who did good work in both his dramatic and comedic scenes.
Good character work was also done by Deanna Maher as Sabine, D’Artagnan’s sister, Jessica Romero as the Queen, and Kathryn Fletcher in a number of matronly roles. Courtney Yuen made for a good villainess, but she might consider cutting down on the pre-show espressos as she seemed to be racing through her scenes.
Sound was the only major issue for me with this production. Amplification would have helped, particularly in the scenes when the action on stage overwhelmed the dialogue. Also, dialogue was occasionally delivered upstage and lost. These were the moments where lack of stage experience showed, but hey, that’s why they’re in school!
Napa Valley College’s “The Three Musketeers” is a family-friendly throwback to an earlier era of entertainment; an era of sword fights, musket battles, and damsels in distress. It’s a live-action version of a Saturday movie matinee. Consider spending an afternoon this weekend with a ragtag group of college students as they band together to rescue the Napa Valley from the oppressive forces of entertainment monotony. All for one and one for all, indeed.
The Three Musketeers
presented by Napa Valley College’s Napa Valley Conservatory Theater
Friday, Nov 15 & Saturday, Nov 16 @ 2pm
Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center
2277 Napa- Vallejo Hwy
Napa, CA 94558
Photo Credit – Jeff Thomas