All for one, one for Shakespeare Santa Cruz
This year's Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of Alexander Dumas' epic masterpiece, “The Three Musketeers,” is set against a redwood forest backdrop—that sublime Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen we have all come to appreciate. Directed by Art Menke, the play is sure to draw a crowd with its classic storyline and early run this summer.
The famous novel tells the story of D'Artagnan, a young man who dreams of becoming a musketeer. Set in 17th century Paris, D'Artagnan befriends three musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. Together they go through various misadventures, one of the most famous being a rescue of the Queen of France amidst war. Kit Wilder, a veteran actor of “The Three Musketeers,” plays Porthos, the extrovert and larger-than-life musketeer.
Wilder describes the story as a coming-of-age tale, not only for D'Artagnan, but for the other musketeers as well: “Each character is able to overcome their individual differences, their own secrets and insecurities, their own frustrations, and the dark side of their lives, to pull off this incredible rescue of the queen … it’s irresistible in that way.”
Wilder has been a part of seven play adaptations of this classic story, some of which have been written by him. Although he normally doesn't work outside of San Jose, he jumped at the chance to come over the hill once he heard Shakespeare Santa Cruz was putting together “The Three Musketeers.” In addition, Wilder adds a personal touch to the plays by lending his own swords and using his own set of boots. “I'm a Musketeer geek,” he says.
Wilder goes on to explain why he thinks he was chosen for the part: “I’m sort of shameless, like the character. I'm loud, and there's a little bit of the larger-than-life about me sometimes. Somebody saw that and probably said, ‘You know, he might make a good Porthos.’” Wilder describes the rehearsal environment as a search to find the right dynamic between the actors, a cohesive excitement to be a part of the story and to support each other whenever they can.
Although “The Three Musketeers” was not written by William Shakespeare, Wilder believes that it still works for the festival because, “It’s classical—a period piece that has all kinds of exciting swordfights. The play has everything in it: it has history, romance, and friendship.” Wilder also adds that the play fits alongside “The Comedy of Errors” and “Henry IV” because it contains comedic elements and is also set against historic European events.
This specific adaptation of the tale “Is very interesting in that it focuses on the story and the characters,” he says. “There really aren’t any gimmicks in that way, which is what I particularly like.” This idea of creating a balance between plot and character close to the action of the text is what gives the production a refreshing quality. Wilder describes a good story as a reciprocal cycle: a character's dynamics have a direct interplay with the movement of the plot.
“It's perfect; it’s what makes Shakespeare so strong and so great,” Wilder says. “That's exactly what his plays do. They are plots, and he takes those plots to really examine how certain events affect human nature and human dynamics, and in turn, how those human dynamics effect the story. This play does the same thing.”
"The Three Musketeers" opens July 20 at 2 p.m. at the Sinsheimer-Stanley Festival Glen at Shakespeare Santa Cruz on the UC Santa Cruz campus. For more information, call 459-2159. Tickets are $14-$20. Shakespearesantacruz.org.
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