All For One – Kimberley Rampersad, Rob McLaughlin & Ntara Curry in the Prairie Theatre Exchange production of The Three Munschketeers, based on stories by Robert Munsch, adapted by Debbie Patterson. (Bruce Monk)
The Three Munschketeers opened on Wednesday, a huge relief and a pleasure for me. The payoff is always seeing it in front of the kids---the participation, the laughter. Its a rush when 300 kids are shouting in unison, or laughing as one.
The idea that the Three Munschketeers (modeled on the Musketeers of Alexandre Dumas) should tell stories by Robert Munsch while they hole out in a hideaway waiting until the coast is clear, is ridiculous and goofy. This is the sixth adaptation by Debbie Patterson; her inventiveness is boundless.
In the past, I have been given scripts featuring barnyard animals telling Munsch stories, a Shakespearean troupe telling Munsch stories, and Munsch stories set to music. The sublime silliness of hearing "I Have to Pee" sung to the tune of " Bohemian Rhapsody" (featured in Munschapalooza three years ago) is a memory that doesn't quickly fade.
This was the eighth Munsch show I have done at Prairie Theatre Exchange, and it is a treasure. The great Canadian actor/director Martha Henry said to me once, "The key to directing comedy is casting funny actors." The Munschketeers Rob McLaughlin, Kimberley Rampersad, and Ntara Curry are hilarious.
It was such a delight to watch them work in rehearsals---they were toiling to memorize their lines and learn their blocking, and still were always playful. I laughed out loud several times a day, even fell to the floor with laughter a couple of times. Pretty fun job for me.
It is always a pleasure to work with the production staff at PTE---the costumes and the set, designed by Laura Gardner, are beautiful. A storage shed full of gold and treasure is transformed into the wacky worlds of Robert Munsch's stories with a few props, and Scott Henderson's magic lighting. The Artistic Director at PTE, Bob Metcalfe, choreographed the swordfights--they swashbuckle and are also funny. Bob used to do a lot of fight choreography, it was cool to watch that skill in use.
My job is done now-- time to gear up for Christmas. The show is in in the hands of the cast and the stage manager. I'll miss them. The performers and stage manager will be rocking the Prairie Theatre Exchange twice a day---its a wonderful holiday gift to the kids in Winnipeg.
In January, the whole thing packs into a van, and they tour all over the province for a couple of months. The Three Munschketeers will be the first play many young people see. I hope it kindles a love of theatre in some little peoples' minds.
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