Aaron Echegaray as D'Artagnan and Cassandra Randall as Sabine mix it up in rehearsals for "The Three Musketeers."
Photo By Suzanne Rehak


UpStage's 'Musketeers' an old-time adventure

By Don Maines
For The Houston Chronicle

Luckily for its swashbuckling title characters, a tomboy named Sabine arrives to save the day in Ken Ludwig's 2006 adaptation of "The Three Musketeers" playing Feb. 14 through March 1 at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd.

"It will take you back to days of yore," said Sam Sigman, who directed the UpStage Theatre production. "It's got a little bit of everything - laughs, swordplay, a death scene."

"I think every boy growing up wanted to be a musketeer," said Sigman, 52, a Tyler native who lives in the Fondren Southwest neighborhood and works as distribution manager for a magazine.

"I had all different shapes of sticks - some were daggers, some were swords - so one day I would be a musketeer and the next day would be World War II," he said.

The cast has been rehearsing since Jan. 20 in an industrial park in Stafford, working with a fight choreographer, John Zipay of Friendswood, who also plays the father in the show. Zipay, who works at NASA, also taught fight choreography to actors in UpStage Theatre productions of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Romeo and Juliet," as well as Ludwig's 1995 comedy hit "Moon Over Buffalo."

Ludwig also wrote the 1989 Broadway hit "Lend Me a Tenor" and the book for "Crazy for You," which won the Tony Award for best musical in 1992.

This adaptation of the Alexander Dumas classic was commissioned in 2006 by the Bristol Old Vic in England.

"I've read the book and seen all the films, I think, except for the 2011 version, and the closest film to this was the 1973 version," Sigman said. "It feels like Ken Ludwig got his inspiration from that version."

The theater's website sums up the plot: "d'Artagnan is accompanied by his sister Sabine as he travels to Paris to join the musketeers and ends up finding true love (Constance), deception (Milady), enmity (Rochefort) and enduring friendship (Aramis, Athos and Porthos)."

Among the cast members are Aaron Echegaray of Montrose as d'Artagnan, Cassandra Randall as Sabine, Bailey Hampton as Constance, Shandi Gomez as Milady and John Patterson as Rochefort.

The title characters are played by Brian Heaton as Aramis, assistant director Rick Evans as Athos and UpStage Theatre's artistic director Sean K. Thompson as Porthos.

"We have an amazing set that was designed by Rachel Smith of Opera in the Heights and we're dressing it," Sigman added. "Volunteers have been working on the costumes since last June."

Like all shows at UpStage Theatre, this one is "family friendly," he said.

"It's for kids of all ages and the excitement will hold onto younger audiences' attention."

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