Ken Ludwig knows a good story when he meets one. Ater all, he’s written several, including the Tony Award-wining plays “Lend Me a Tenor,” and “Crazy For You.”
So when he was asked by a British theater company to write an adaptation of a classic story for the stage, Ludwig chose Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Three Musketeers.”
“I said that without having read it in years,” Ludwig says. “It’s a humongous book, about 700 pages. I thought, ‘How am I going to condense this down?’”
Audiences will be able to find out for themselves when Ludwig’s adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” opens Saturday at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro.
Talking by phone from his home in Washington, D.C., Ludwig says he was taken aback by the quality of Dumas’ novel, which was written in 1844. “What surprised me is how great it is,” he says. “It’s not the story that grabs us the most, it’s the characters.”
For those who, like Ludwig, haven’t read it in years, “The Three Musketeers” is about a young man, D’Artagnan, and the musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The four have many adventures while they, as Ludwig says, “cut a wide swath through 17th century France.”
It’s a real swashbuckler of a tale.
The Commonweal production features company members Hal Cropp, Gary Danciu, Scott Dixon, Megan K. Pence, David Hennessey, Eric Lee, Adrienne Sweeney, Brandt Roberts and Jeremy van Meter, along with guest artist Wade Alden, apprentice actor Callie Boydston, and former apprentice Sarah Hawkins Moan. The show is directed by Alan Berks.
Obviously, the Commonweal and Ludwig are not presenting the entire book on stage.
“You have to be selective and find out what you want to tell in two hours on stage,” says Ludwig. “You pick one central episode.”
Then, having reduced the story, Ludwig added to it. “I gave D’Artagnan a sister, Sabine,” he says. “She becomes a big figure in the piece.” Sabine disguises herself as a young man, poses as her brother’s servant, and becomes involved in his adventures.
Ludwig, who usually likes a light touch in his plays, was able to find it in “The Three Musketeers.”
“It is innately comic,” he says. “It’s filled with high spirit.”
If you go
What “The Three Musketeers”
When Saturday through Oct. 24
Where Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N, Lanesboro
Tickets $35, with discounts for seniors, students and groups. 800-657-7025.