Front Porch Arts puts a modern spin on The Three Musketeers
Boston’s black-led theatre company, Front Porch Arts Collaborative, closes out its 2018-2019 season with a production of “The Three Musketeers” in collaboration with Greater Boston Stage Company. Running through June 30 at the Greater Boston Stage Company’s theater in Stoneham, Massachusetts, the show kicks off the summer with humor, heart and a whole lot of sword fighting.
The adaptation by Catherine Bush uses contemporary language to modernize the period show. But Front Porch Arts selected “Three Musketeers” for the history of its author. Alexander Dumas was half Haitian, although he passed as white and lived that way his whole life. “For us that was something interesting. There are so many stories and so many perspectives in people of color,” says Dawn Simmons, director of the show and artistic director of Front Porch Arts. “What could it look like to take that and reimagine it in a world where things were more inclusive and equitable?”
Another reason Front Porch Arts was drawn to the show was because of the significant stage fighting in it. “Rarely do people of color in this city really get to attack that physical sphere the way that this show does,” says Simmons.
This rumination led to a fascinating blend of modern and classic. In addition to featuring a cast comprised predominantly of actors of color, the show plays with gender, recasting traditionally male characters as female to illustrate a more contemporary power dynamic. Modern elements also are incorporated into the soundscape, which weaves tribal beats, hip-hop and tango into the classic instrumental adventure score. Costume designer Amanda Mujica played on this time-traveling feeling by styling the actors with a mix of garments from tri-cornered hats to leather biker jackets.
Originally published by Dumas in 1844, the story follows young D’Artagnan, who travels to Paris from the countryside to become one of the king’s musketeers, a coveted and glamorous military position. Along the way he meets the famed three musketeers and must win their trust and friendship by helping them defeat a series of foes. And, of course, he falls in love along the way.
The values at the core of the story are friendship and valor, but Simmons says her greatest hope is that the audience has a wildly fun experience. She says, “At the end of the day, I want people to have an amazing time. I want them to laugh. I want them to be thinking seriously about taking fencing classes. I want the looks on their faces to be like the faces of people watching a sporting event.”