The Three Musketeers

Credit: Holly Liu / Credit: Holly Liu /

In Carnegie Mellon School of Drama’s The Three Musketeers, the classic phrase of the eponymous trio, “All for one and one for all,” takes on a new meaning in the thrilling conclusion to Carnegie Mellon’s theater season. The show was held in the Purnell Center for the Arts from April 13 to 15 and April 25 to 29 at matinee times of 2 p.m. on Saturdays and evening times at 8 p.m. for every day of the production.

Adapted by Associate Professor of Dramaturgy Megan Monaghan Rivas and based on Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel of the same name, The Three Musketeers tells the story of d’Artagnan, a young man who sets out to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Together with three fellow Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, the four set out on a mission to protect the queen from inner-court intrigue led by Cardinal Richelieu.

The two other plays that I have seen at Carnegie Mellon, Playboy of the Western World and The Rover, never failed to blow me away with the performances of the actors, and The Three Musketeers is no different. What makes The Three Musketeers stand apart from the other two was that every aspect of the production worked flawlessly to create a timeless adventure perfectly adapted to fit the modern times.

Rivas adapts Dumas’ tale by maintaining the novel’s original setting of 17th century France but creating a world where men and women have equal opportunities, maintaining the traditional roles of Queen Anne, Constance, and Milady de Winter but switching the gender of a handful of guards and assassins; Aramis, a Musketeer; Captain Treville of the Musketeers; and Planchet, d’Artagnan’s servant. Rivas makes sure the effect of this adaptation doesn’t go unnoticed, reinventing Planchet’s role as a servant into more of a companion to d’Artagnan, even eventually meshing well with the other Musketeers. Rivas also reinvents other character’s origins, having d’Artagnan’s mother be a skilled swordsman who helped to train her son. She meshes politics splendidly throughout the production through a subplot about the heritage and acceptance of Aramis. The adaptation also emphasized women’s rights, threading the current political climate through additions such as quoting the now famous phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used to defend the Republican Party for silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren during a Senate meeting directly into the play. This offered great commentary throughout the production and added an extra air of refreshment. Overall, the adaptations to the play added an extra layer of meaning to the production, and Rivas perfectly mixed tradition with reinvention to create a memorable experience.

As previously mentioned, all the actors’ performances were phenomenal. Senior acting major Alexandra Miyashiro made Planchet incredibly memorable by imbuing the character with a childlike excitement and penchant to dream, livening up the production not just with her bright costume (which expertly showed the dynamic between her and the other Musketeers) but with her attitude. Senior acting major Siddiq Saunderson, who played d’Artagnan, acted spectacularly as the focal point of the play, helping the audience follow along with the story and becoming a marvelous presence on stage. Senior acting major Victoria Pedretti made her role as the captain of the Musketeers clear to everyone on the stage, commanding a caring yet fearless presence filling the audience with intimidation and awe. I had previously seen senior acting major Andrew Richardson as Willmore in Carnegie Mellon’s production of The Rover earlier this year, and it was amazing to see him perform again on the stage playing a character with completely opposite morals to his previous one. Richardson brought out the emotional complexities and baggage of Athos incredibly well, and commanded the crowd and his companions perfectly within each scene he was present in.

One of the elements that was integral to the show’s success was the incredible choreography from fight choreographer Mike Rossmy. Each fight felt ripped from a gripping action movie, and you could feel the suspense fill every corner of Purnell with each metal clash of swords. The scenes had varying paces and environments, ranging from intense and crowded at a ball, to quick and fun at a training ground, to slow and calculated on a bridge, emphasizing the effect of each scene in the show and making every moment feel important.

Overall The Three Musketeers was flawless across the board, with standout performances and an incredible script and cast. Every little aspect of the production felt meaningful and showed the work, dedication, and underlying message of the cast and everyone involved. It has been two days since I’ve seen the production, and all I want to do is forget about finals and dive back into the spectacularly crafted and exciting world of The Three Musketeers.