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Davis, California

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

High school students play swashbuckling heroes in The Three Musketeers

In a darkened Davis theater, an audience watches as colorful characters engage in sword fighting, comedy and adventure. No, it’s not another Pirates of the Caribbean movie – it’s a stage production of The Three Musketeers.

Adapted from Alexander Dumas’s original swashbuckling tale, the play by Ken Ludwig features an all-teen cast from the Acme Theater Company. The show’s final performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Theater with special Pre-Show Royal Quest activities for children at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students.

The Three Musketeers is Acme Theater Company’s 103rd major production since the company’s inception in 1981. The company is a self-sustaining community theater group based in Davis for young artists. High school-aged artists learn various acting and technical skills and are presented with the opportunity to produce their own play. They are organized and run by a small group of adult mentors, many of whom are alumni of the program themselves.

Today, after 30 years in operation, more than 3,000 young people in Davis and Yolo County have participated in Acme productions. The company presents three to four productions each year, drawing from the best dramatic literature from around the world. Acme has concentrated on presenting plays with themes relevant to the community, the nation and the world.

“Ken Ludwig is a great comedic playwright,” said artistic director Emily Henderson. “He’s done a lot of great work and has managed to condense Dumas’s huge book into two hours of pure awesomeness.”

Henderson, herself an alumna of the program, was an English teacher at the local high school before joining as the adult mentor two years ago.

“It’s a large cast so getting everyone here at the same time is hard,” said stage manager Rachel Klassen. “It’s even harder to get everyone on the same page. But at the end of the day it’s worth it because we get to put out an amazing show.”

Full of intrigue, swordplay and revenge, “The Three Musketeers” is the story of d’Artagnan (played by Matt Gibson), a young nobleman who travels to Paris in hopes of joining the Musketeers, a group of swashbuckling adventurers who serve King Louis XIII (Zach Salk). His wit and fighting ability make d’Artagnan a welcome addition to their ranks, and together the four young men work to foil the King’s evil rival.

“It’s a very action packed adaptation. It moves along from one dramatic moment to the next quickly,” Henderson said. “At the same time it’s very family friendly which is fun. Everyone, from the age of seven to 70, seems to enjoy it.”

The adaptation also introduces a new character, Sabine, d’Artagnan’s younger, tomboyish sister who quickly gets wrapped up in the spirit of adventure along with the rest of the Musketeers.

“Playing Sabine has been a challenge but also a lot of fun,” said high school senior Gigi Gilbert-Igelsrud. “It’s a great opportunity because she’s not in the original play. I spend a lot of time on stage trying to convince the audience to like me and I think they will end up pleasantly surprised.”

The play also boasts more than 19 different sword fights. For the various fight scenes, Henderson invited a professional choreographer from New York to help out with the complex movements.

Many of the actors cite the sword fighting as their favorite part of the whole production process.

Henderson, on the other hand, specifically enjoys the Musketeers’ comical entrance to the stage.

“It’s a challenging play,” Henderson said. “There are many locations, the costume pieces are big and there are many, many, many props. It’s very visual and entertaining. For our 30th anniversary we were really looking to finish with a bang, and this play definitely was it.”

“Anyone and everyone should come see the show,” Gilbert-Igelsrud said. “It’s extremely funny to watch and really exciting too.”

To reserve tickets, contact Acme’s house manager by e-mailing tickets@acmetheatre.net. All other tickets can be picked up at the Veterans Memorial Theatre, 203 East 14th Street in Davis. Tickets are $14 general, $10 for students and seniors and $5 for children 12 and under.

ANASTASIA ZHURAVLEVA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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