A flamboyant king of France in high heels, an ex-nun turned seductress, a bright orange cardboard horse, and lots of sword fighting -- what more entertainment could you want from a night at the theater? And that is precisely what Falls Church High School provided in its recent production of Charles Morey's adaptation of "The Three Musketeers."

Captivating from the first line to the final bow, the show was based on Alexandre Dumas's novel of camaraderie, revenge, deceit and dreams. The plot follows D'Artagnan, a young man who in 1625 travels to Paris to fulfill his lifelong aspiration of becoming one of Louis XIII's renowned Musketeers. He soon befriends the Musketeers and sets off to punish the evil and reward the good, and of course, fall in love along the way.

As D'Artagnan, Aaron Sellman provided an innocent quality to a courageous character -- along with a bent for slapstick humor. Erin Burns, as Milady de Winter, the deceitful right-hand woman to Cardinal Richelieu, was a pleasure to watch, as a twisted, evil-minded character who strutted about the stage haughtily.

The true star of the show, however, was Clayton Tune, who, in two roles, displayed crazy antics as the eccentric Louis XIII and a contrasting air of maturity as a softhearted prison guard.

The ambitious and numerous stage combat scenes performed by the ensemble were another highlight.

While at times there were some lighting problems, other technical features made up for the glitches. A fog machine was a nice touch, the set worked well and the costumes, by Ruth Petersen and Holly Doak, were wonderful.

"All for one and one for all" -- and one for you, Falls Church.

Lizzy Mass

J.E.B. Stuart High School

Swashbuckling heroes, beautiful, double-crossing spies, kings in high heels -- sound like an unusual crowd for a modern-day school? Not for Falls Church High School's recent production of "The Three Musketeers."

An outstanding cast and a beautiful set made for an entertaining evening as the school's theater company presented Alexandre Dumas's story of D'Artagnan and his three comrades, Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

Set in 1625, "The Three Musketeers" tells the adventures of four men who struggle to stop the plans of the evil Cardinal Richelieu, who is conspiring against Louis XIII of France and his wife, Queen Anne. In doing so, the Musketeers encounter a beautiful spy, Milady de Winter, who becomes determined to seek revenge on them.

Charles Morey's stage version of the famous novel is actually a play-within-a-play, opening with Dumas struggling to complete his masterpiece before its opening the next day. Occasionally Dumas himself enters the story, resulting in a series of comedic character changes.

As Dumas, John Hilbert amused the audience with energy and a remarkable ability to switch from the harried Dumas to the heroic captain of the Musketeers.

Aaron Sellman gave a nuanced performance as the young, impetuous and determined D'Artagnan. As Aramis, Ricky Dilworth conveyed a sense of quiet dignity that could instantly turn to ferocity in a sword fight.

In a standout performance, Clayton Tune played the hilariously foppish Louis XIII, but was also capable of revealing a more serious side, in a brief appearance as the religious zealot Felton, sent to guard Milady de Winter.

While there were some difficulties with lighting, the sound team provided perfectly timed effects, and all actors could be heard clearly. A beautiful two-level set, plus the incorporation of the whole auditorium, allowed the actors a great deal of freedom of movement, which contributed greatly to the overall effect -- as did a number of stage fights involving hand-to-hand and sword combat.

Although there were occasional moments of low energy, Falls Church's production of "The Three Musketeers" was a swashbuckling good time.

Amanda Moodie

St. Andrew's Episcopal School

Falls Church High School's production of Alexandre Dumas's "The Three Musketeers" included, from left, Clayton Tune as Louis XIII, Aaron Sellman as D'Artagnan and Casey Evanoff as Athos, plus plenty of sword fighting.