The Covey Center for The Arts is a special place.
When you go there, you can see paintings ranging from ancient to modern. You can see performances from contemporary music groups like Ryan Shupe and The Rubberband, or catch a piano-centric mood-fest performed live by David Lanz and Kurt Bestor.
If instead, you’re in the mood for some theatre (perhaps to convince a certain girl or guy that you are more refined than you actually are?), then The Covey Center has you covered there, too. Courtesy of Tony-Award winning writer Ken Ludwig, and Director Barta Heiner comes “The Three Musketeers,” a stage adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel.
Heiner is a well-known face in Utah’s theater community, and her experience directing is hard to overstate. She has directed over 40 productions to date, and has been involved in the world of theater since she was in her teens.
“In High School I auditioned for the role of a Swedish Nurse in the play ‘Heaven Knows Mr. Allison’ (upon which the film ‘Heaven Can Wait’ was based). It required an accent, and I was pretty good with accents. I got the role.”
From there, Heiner obtained an undergraduate degree from BYU, and a Master’s degree from the American Conservatory Theater.
When asked why she directs, Heiner said, “It didn’t start with anything spectacular. It just kind of evolved as I taught at The National Theater Conservatory in Denver – it was out of necessity.”
Her directorial debut, George Bernard Shaw’s “The Arms and The Man”, was, according to her, “a clever little piece. From there, I kept directing.”
Forty productions later, Heiner still finds joy in the show.
“I really enjoy the collaboration, and seeing things grow. Working with different actors, and collaborating with all the people at The Covey Center… It’s fun.”
Ken Ludwig’s “The Three Musketeers” offers Heiner a fresh challenge, but she has made it her own.
“This particular script is played very tongue-in-cheek,” said Heiner. “I tried to make sure that there was strong communication built in the piece, because if a Dumas purist came, they might be frustrated because Ludwig has taken some liberties with the script. In this version, even the women get to fight.”
“With the stage combat and the period dances, it’s almost like putting on a musical. This has required a lot of time and effort from the actors.” A seasoned actress herself –she has more than 100 roles under her belt to date — Heiner knows the rigors of working with the new challenges. “[The Three Musketeers is] not just a play. It requires a great deal from the actors physically, as well. Getting everything together to work cohesively is a challenge, but it’s been very rewarding.”
The work put into the production by the cast and crew shows through from the moment you enter the theater and lay eyes on the stage. As each act unfolds, the audience is treated to an array of interesting sights and sounds, including a remarkably adaptable set, talented actors and actresses –Jessica Myer being one who deserves special mention –some standout swordfights, and an impressive amount of swashes: buckled or otherwise.
Daniel Hess is one of the highlights of the production as he, tongue planted firmly in cheek, plays the raucous character of Porthos with a wicked combination of reckless confidence and bold humor. When it’s obvious that the actor is having that much fun, it’s hard for the audience to not enjoy the ride.
Though it is quite different from the novel upon which it was based, Ken Ludwig’s adaptation is undeniably spirited. Heiner’s statement about Dumas purists probably taking issue with some of the finer details of the story may be valid, but for a new twist on a classic tale, it seems a small price. If you’re looking for a fun evening in Provo, The Three Musketeers, like its titular trio, takes careful aim and hits the target, with very few misfires along the way.