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THEATER REVIEW : Will & Co.'s 'Musketeers' Shortens the Swordplay


Don't expect Will & Co.'s new "family accessible" production of "The Three Musketeers" at the Los Angeles Theatre Center to be a faithful staging of Dumas' swashbuckling saga.

If you thought the Disney version took liberties. . . .

In this hourlong show, kicking off Will & Co.'s "Quicktakes" series for family audiences, a cast of six youthful adult professionals, led by the company's artistic director Colin Cox, plays multiple roles. Among them, the veteran Cox as Athos and Philip Lester as D'Artagnan demonstrate the most polish.

The actors wow the littlest, action-hungry audience members with lots of swordplay. They drop puns and make contemporary references--Rochefort (Benito Martinez) and Richelieu (Edgar Landa) break into "One Singular Sensation" from "A Chorus Line" and D'Artagnan hip-hops to "Whoomp! (There It Is)."

They also have out-of-character exchanges with the audience. After some energetic and fairly adept group sword-clashing, Cox turns to the audience and pretends to preen over his "lovely choreography."

Despite the adult references, however, this bare-bones show, presented in the center's cavernous Theatre 2, will appeal primarily to very young children, who are able to suspend disbelief and overlook uneven performances more readily than their elders. At a recent matinee, despite the broadly comic shenanigans, several tykes were shouting vocal encouragement as D'Artagnan clashed with the Cardinal's guards: "You can do it, D'Artagnan!," "Win, D'Artagnan, win!"

Upcoming shows planned for a "Quicktakes" treatment: "The Odyssey," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Macbeth," "Hamlet" and "Romeo & Juliet."

* "The Three Musketeers," Los Angeles Theatre Center Theatre 2, 514 S. Spring St. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. through April 2. $5-$7.50; (213) 485-1681. Running time: 1 hour.

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