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MEG offers swashbuckling adventure with 'The Three Musketeers'

MEG offers swashbuckling adventure with 'The Three Musketeers'

Maryland Entertainment Group will bring a swashbuckling historical adventure to the stage at Hagerstown Community College’s Kepler Theater Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, March 17 with its production of “The Three Musketeers.”

Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the play will take audiences through the tale of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and newcomer to the regiment, D’Artagnan, as they fight for France. Well-known for the motto “All for one and one for all,” “The Three Musketeers” explores timeless themes of friendship, loyalty, courage and triumph over evil.

Sam Little, artistic director of MEG, also directs the show and stars as Athos, the leader of the three musketeers.

“(Athos) is a little bit older than the others and he’s kind of a father figure to D’Artagnan,” Little said. “He has a bit of a jaded past that makes him dark and mysterious in some ways.”

Athos also is a fierce and determined soldier for France who is loyal to the king and queen. As such, the show features a great deal of fight choreography and stage combat as well as disciplines which Little is well-versed. He has worked as a performer and assistant stunt coordinator with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, and will serve as fight director and stunt coordinator for the upcoming 2019 season. He has received certifications through the Society of American Fight Directors and Dueling Arts International, and is working to become certified as an instructor through DAI.

Even with roughly 15 years’ experience working in fight choreography, Little said, orchestrating all the bodies and action onstage for “The Three Musketeers” proved to be an undertaking. The actors assisted in the process and became better stage fighters in the process.

“I think we have an impressive package to present to the community,” he said. “I hope it will knock their socks off. I don’t think this caliber of stage combat is reached in a lot of shows let alone in this neck of the woods.”

Jacob Waeyaert, 25, of Hagerstown, who portrays foolish and headstrong yet heroic D’Artagnan, said just as his character learns a lot through the course of the play, he has learned a lot through the rehearsal process.

“I’ve never actually been in a role where I had to portray heroism before. I never had to be the hero,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with the action involved. I think this is the closest I can come to being in an action movie while being onstage.”

Sean Besecker, 28, of Chambersburg, plays Porthos, a character he describes as “definitely the laughter part of the musketeers.”

“Probably the best thing about him is that he is led by his heart in everything he does. He is fun-loving, enjoys life to the fullest — fighting, women, drinking. He pretty much loves everything in life,” Besecker said. “He’s also very vain.”

Though “The Three Musketeers” is classified as a historical adventure, one need not be a 17th-century French history expert to enjoy it. The language used in the adaptation by British playwright Willis Hall is witty but accessible and works well onstage.

“It’s very easy to keep up with. It starts at the beginning of D’Artagnan’s journey and moves along, straightforward with the plot,” Besecker said.

Jacob Reese, 26, of Hagerstown, portrays Aramis, a character who commonly attempts to restrain his wily comrades.

“More often than not, he is frowning, crossing his arms and reminding them of their duty, if not to the king, then to the Lord. Especially when some get more forward than they should with members of the clergy,” he said.

The play features archetype characters that represent universal patterns in human nature, Reese said.

“It’s almost like if you were watching ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ or ‘Sex and the City’ because you have those types of strong personalities that complement each other very well,” he said. “There is a lot of humor that develops between them. It’s not one being a clown so much as the interactions between them.”

The show offers a variety of elements to provide a rich blend of entertainment, Little said.

“There will be fast-paced sword play, but there is a whole other hour and a half of show,” he said. “We’ve tried to build wonderful characters, to have comic moments, serious moments, romantic moments, a lot of different kinds of moments throughout the show.”

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