After many years of bringing great pleasure and delight to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, it saddens me greatly to share that The Three Musketeers will be Theatre Britain’s last production here in the United States. The quality of their productions has always been impeccable, from sets to costumes to wonderful actors. Theatre Britain features exclusively British scripts with drama, mysteries, comedy and of course, their annual Christmas Panto, this year running November 25th-December 30th, 2017.
Panto is a cherished Christmas tradition in England, and while the content itself isn’t about Christmas, these silly, raucous, cheery shows that spoof fairy tales, folklore and children’s stories are the perfect complement to the Holiday Season. There’s something marvelously subversive about classic Panto, with a man impersonating a saucy, flirtatious woman (Dame) and ingenue playing a man’s role (Breeches). There’s a singalong competition between the men and women and kids from 9 to 90 are encouraged to converse with onstage characters and boo the villains. The first time I attended Christmas Panto I had no idea what to expect. It was Dick Whittington and I brought my mother along. We discovered that Panto is much more than souped-up children’s theatre (with lots of nudges to the adults) it’s a state of mind.
This year Jackie Mellor-Guin’s The Three Musketeers is up with beautiful Shay MacDonald playing D’Artagnan, and Ivan Jones as Kate Planchet. There’s lots of swashbuckling and intrigue cooked up by the diabolical Cardinal Richelieu and Madame de Winter. The story is preposterous enough to amuse the grown ups and serious enough to engage the children. The history is there, with songs and slapstick, shtick and double-entendre’s. I need to say, after some years of watching stage comedy, it’s surprising how truly difficult it is to carry off what plays as ridiculous but still actually funny. As the prevailing wisdom goes, the best make it look easy, and director Sue Birch and her bouncy, brash, brilliant cast deliver with a genuinely ticklish and fizzy show, guaranteed to dip you in sunshine.
Don’t miss your last chance to engage in this one-of-a-kind, charming experience.
Theatre Britain presents The Three Musketeers, playing November 25th-December 30th, 2017. Cox Playhouse, 1517 H Avenue, Plano, Texas 75074. 972-490-4202. theatre-britain.com.