Three Musketeers In Marcus Garvey Park

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Photo credit: Jill Jones

On Opening Night, July 9, I went to see a production written by 19th century French author, Alexandre Dumas who was born in 1802 and of Caribbean heritage and blood. The Play, "The Three Musketeers" was directed by Jenny Bennett and reworked/written by Catherine Bush who adapted her version from Alexandre Dumas's famous novel and characters Athos, Porthos, Aramis and later d'Artagnan who sought to join the legendary Three Musketeers. d'Artagnan was the central character in Bush's version portrayed by Miriam Hyman. However, Bush switch-hit the male character of d'Artagnan, by turning him into a Tom boyish lesbian character of unrefined persona, described in Bush's play as "country."

If you like swashbuckling swordplay and the Harlemizing of Dumas's classic drama, than you will be in your element. Presented by the Classic Harlem Theatre, The Three Musketeers with its colorful Afrocentric-styled costumes by Rachel Dozier-Ezell and choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher and fight scenes by Emmanuel Brown, features a mixed cast.  Showcased in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park at the Richard Rogers Amphitheater, located on 124th St near 5th Ave, performances will run: July 7 – 30, Tuesday - Sunday.

The cast consists of Emmanuel Brown (as Athos); Brandon Carter (as Aramis); Reynaldo Piniella (as Porthos); Michael Early (as Cardinal Richelieu), the nemesis of the Musketeers; R.J. Foster (as Rochefort); Anthony Merchant (as King Louis); and Piera Van de Weil (as Milady). The ensemble is comprised of Afia Abusham, Jeffrey Alkins, Jamar Brathwaite, Avon Haughton, Ava McCoy, Nedra Snipes, Jorge Sanchez, Jak Watson and The Elisa Monte Dance Company.

Readers of the classics, recognize Dumas as a widely read author whose historical novels include "The Count of Monte Cristo," "The Three Musketeers," and an unfinished novel "The Knight of Sainte-Hermine." The novel was unfinished at his death and was later completed by a scholar and published in 2005, re-titled "The Last Cavalier." Dumas wrote plays but also numerous magazine articles and travel books.

Of mixed heritage, Dumas's father was nobleman and General Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie who was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue which is known as present-day Haiti.  As an adult, Thomas-Alexandre used his mother's name, Dumas, as his surname. He was promoted to general at the age of 31, the first soldier of Afro-Antilles origin to reach that rank in the French army. He served with distinction in the French Revolutionary Wars and became general-in-chief of the Army of the Pyrenees, the first man of colour to reach that rank.  Thomas's mother was an enslaved African woman. Thomas-Alexandre died when his son Alexandre was 4 years old.

Although a prolific writer, Alexandre Dumas depended on numerous assistants and collaborators, of whom Auguste Maquet was the best known. Maquet is believed to have outlined the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo and made substantial contributions to The Three Musketeers and its sequels, as well as to several of Dumas' other novels.

Dumas was a well read and popular writer earning considerable money but also a spendthrift who enjoyed the ladies. Though married, Dumas had numerous affairs. He was described as a generous, large-hearted personality who was delightfully amusing and egotistical.

The Harlem version of "The Three Musketeers," will continue from July 11 – 30. Friday performances are at 8:30PM. All other shows begin at 8:00PM. Please note, there are no performances on Mondays. Interested parties can find the Richard Rogers Amphitheater, located at 18 Mt Morris Park W, New York, NY. by entering the park at 124th Street & Fifth Avenue,via walking south to the venue. Tickets: FREE to general public, no reservations required.

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