“The Three Musketeers,” complete with dashing heroics, beautiful ladies, swordplay and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, opened the Kansas City Ballet’s 58th season Friday in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
Répétiteur Gilles Maidon set André Prokovsky’s 1980 ballet on the company for this Kansas City premiere. Guy Woolfenden arranged excerpts from Giuseppe Verdi’s operas for the score, a mostly successful mélange. Ramona Pansegrau conducted the Kansas City Symphony.
This balletic version used a highly condensed and expurgated storyline from Alexander Dumas’ novel of political intrigue, but even so the action stumbled repeatedly. The production was well served, though, by Peter Farmer’s versatile and charming set design, with period-appropriate costumes of pale blue, black and red.
A strong cast for the opening performance kept the show lively and engaging. The Musketeers — Athos (Charles Martin), Porthos (Michael Davis) and Aramis (Lamin Pereira dos Santos) — showed swaggering self-confidence, all exuberant smiles and glinting sword blades. The Cardinal’s guards, led by Rochefort (Logan Pachciarz), were hardly menacing, though they were excellent foils for the Musketeers, with superb timing when the broad humor demanded it.
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Liang Fu made a dynamic impression with his bravura entrance as d’Artagnan, followed immediately by an amusing sequence with his balky donkey, a mix of technical ability and comic acting that served the character well. Molly Wagner, as Constance, performed with sweet sincerity and a hearty dose of spunk. They are an excellent pairing, with youthfulness in their bearing and lightness in the lifts.
Much of the success of the ballet fell to the solos and duets, while the ensemble work (with the exception of the gleefully chaotic swordplay) didn’t exhibit astounding choreography or add much interest to the story. The fencing sequences were fast paced and enthusiastic, but one wishes there had been more and longer opportunities to witness these intricate skills.
Geoffrey Kropp as Buckingham and Angelina Sansone as Queen Anne were tender and regal, whether together or apart. Yoshiya Sakuri gave a good-natured performance as the foppish King Louis XIII.
Danielle Bausinger was Milady, in cahoots with Cardinal Richelieu (Anthony Krutzkamp), an impressive role, especially in the intentionally inelegant (and highly amusing) duets with Kropp and Fu.
Fu and Wagner’s final pas de deux was a brilliant match, leading into a delightful ensemble number that offered Kropp and Bausinger the opportunity to show off their technical prowess along with a nice showing from the whole company.
The Kansas City Ballet’s “The Three Musketeers” continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For more info go to kcballet.org.