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‘Musketeers’ hits stage at children’s theater

Thu., Feb. 14, 2013

Nonprofit’s production is traditional version of tale

It was a mad dash for young actors and actresses to jump into character for the first dress rehearsal of “The Three Musketeers.”

The show opens Friday at Theater Arts for Children and follows the traditional storyline penned by Alexandre Dumas, of the obstacles that musketeer hopeful, D’Artagnan, has to overcome so he can join the royal Musketeers of the Guard.

Although the story has serious themes of corruption and espionage, there’s a lot of fun for the players, including a rambunctious brawl, swordplay, love and villainy.

“It was more of a true ‘Three Musketeers’ where they’re saving the princess and trying to help her avoid a bad marriage because she likes someone else,” artistic director Leah Dach said.

The Spokane Valley nonprofit scored the script from a U.K. writer who provided the production royalty-free, which is amazing for a small theater, Dach said.

The organization has been in its current space for about a year. This is the second show with a new stage with space to spare for kids to shuffle in and out of the play’s set.

This isn’t the first theatrical performance for Justine Tautz, 17, but she’s keeping a cautious eye on opening night.

“I think that’s one of the most trying (challenges) because the simple fact – you’re nervous, you have a crowd outside and you’re completely off book. It’s scary,” Tautz said.

This production will be the biggest role of her young career to date. She plays the femme fatale, Milady DeWinter, a ruthless manipulator for obtaining what she desires.

The University High School student also stars with her 12-year-old brother, Austin Tautz, who plays the guard, John Felton. Although it’s a lot of work to memorize lines and stage blocking, it presents a creative outlet and helps develop public speaking, Dach said.

“I think doing sports is great, but I think theater arts teach kids to learn different things like teamwork and confidence,” Dach said.

Parents prepare for the busy opening week by seeing their children get to rehearsals on time, but they see the positive changes their children go through.

“They get self-esteem like you wouldn’t believe,” said Mick Ackermann whose son, Aaron Ackermann plays Planchet, D’Artagnan’s servant.

He’s seen children in other plays start out shy and uncomfortable in front of people, but they’re “realizing they have something to say,” he said.

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