The Three Musketeers by Barbershopera**** (St James Studio, 13 July 2013)

Posted: July 15, 2013 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Razor-swishing and foam-buckling, the three plus one Musketeers take the St James stage by storm; these characters have been seen many times before, but never have they combined to defend their king in such perfect harmony. The union of Barbers’ Shop Quartet singing and Alexander Dumas’ quartet of heroes is so natural that it is surprising that no-one seems to have thought of it before. The story begins in the small French village of Pissypooville, where the economy is being ruined because of a jam roly-poly embargo by the dastardly English. The young villager D’Artagnan decides that she (yes, she) will venture to Paris to rescue the situation and achieve her dream of joining the legendary Three Musketeers. Meanwhile, King Louis is attempting to repair Anglo/French relations in a rather intimate way with the Duke of Buckingham and he gifts the Duke with his treasured golden plums. Our four heroes are duly despatched to England (land of “hazards and over-cooked vegetables”) to retrieve the plums before the evil Cardinal Rich Tea can use their absence to discredit and de-throne the King. It is all unashamedly bawdy and camp, bearing only a passing resemblance to the Dumas original. The very likeable and exuberant Quartet are Pete Sorel Cameron (Aramis), Laura Darton (D’Artagnan), Harry Stone (Porthos) and Russell Walker (Athos); they all double up to play the other characters. Their a cappella singing exemplifies “all for one and one for all”, with splendid tones and harmonies, but they also turn out to be very accomplished comedy performers. This is definitely not a case of four singers standing static at centre stage; the whole show is directed (by Sarah Tipple) and choreographed (by Russell Smith) with considerable flair. The original tunes lean towards the ordinary, but the lyrics are excellent and the script is packed with very funny jokes. It is an evening of continuous jollity, interrupted only by the interval, and it deserves a wider audience. So, a note to cost-conscious theatre producers – this is a crowd-pleasing musical that will not require paying an orchestra. There really is something here to please everyone.

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