Impressive on-stage swordplay highlights Pennsylvania Playhouses playful production of "The Three Musketeers" through April 21 at the playhouse at 390 Illicks Mill Road, Bethlehem.

This version is written by Ken Ludwig, who has infused Alexandre Dumas classic 1844 novel "The Three Musketeers" with a generous dose of contemporary humor and slapstick comedy.

The familiar story follows the young Gascon DArtagnan who yearns to joins the kings elite musketeers alongside the famed three musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis, along the way foiling the nefarious plots of the evil Cardinal Richelieu.ThreeMusketeers

The headstrong DArtagnan is played with cheeky humor and fumbling determination by Salem Perez Torres. Perez Torres portrayal is appealingly brash and impertinent.

Athos is given an understated authority by Ryan Patrick Allen. Allens lead musketeer is brooding but congenial.

The foppish Porthos is played with broad humor by Drake Nestor, who makes the most of the raucous musketeers role as the sardonic wit of the trio.

Stephen Simones Aramis is still as rowdy as the rest of them, but Simone adds a touch of sophistication befitting a man who is studying to enter the priesthood.

A new character who has been added by Ludwig is Sabine, who is DArtagnans feisty younger sister. She has been sent along with her brother to attend a convent school in Paris but has other ideas.

Caitie Pagonis engaging Sabine is spunky and confident, even as she fields an unrequited crush on Aramis.

James Dennis has a blast as the totally corrupt Cardinal Richelieu, making the character so sleazily villainous you want to see just how low he will go.

Equally evil is Jillian Hetskos portrayal of the Countess de Winter, although Hetsko makes her even more gleefully vicious and schemingly devious.

The convoluted plot follows the musketeers attempts to protect the honor of Queen Ann of France and retrieve a diamond necklace, she has foolishly given to her lover, the Duke of Buckingham.

Amy Kramer makes Queen Ann clever and grounded in sharp contrast to the foolish and childlike King Louis, played with giddy self-absorption by Matthe Contakes.

Michael Sheridan gives a solid performance as the Cardinals arrogant right hand man Rochefort and Kaelin Weston is earnest as the Queens lady-in-waiting and DArtagnans love interest.

However, the real star of the show is the sword-fighting in which the cast has obviously spent a lot of time perfecting. There are lots of exciting duels and fights throughout the story, but a nearly all-cast melee that filled the stage in the first act was especially impressive. Kudos to Dennis who also is the fight captain and sword master Chris Egging.

Gary Boyers direction deftly keep all the action and physical humor on track.

Brett Oliveiras two story set works well and allows scenes to take place simultaneously, while Todd Burkels 17th century costumes look great.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $15 for students. The April 13 performance is pay what you can.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. April 12, 13, 19 and 20; and 3 p.m. April 7, 14 and 21.

For information, call 610-865-6665, or go to