There's a feeling of a-play-within-a-play as actors wander on stage before the show begins and start prepping, dressing, and adjusting wigs. The character of Le Bret (Shawn Hamilton) functions as a sort of narrator, setting the stage and introducing characters. Cyrano (J.C. Cutler) and Christian (Sam Bardwell) are soldiers in the same regiment, the former known for his skill with words and the sword, and the latter a bit of an unknown as newcomer to the regiment. Cyrano is in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane (Emily Gunyou Halaas), so when she tells him that she loves the handsome Christian, he agrees to look out for him. Unbeknownst to Roxane, he also agrees to write letters to her from Christian, who is not blessed with the gift of poetry as Cyrano is. Roxane continues to fall in love with Christian through his (Cyrano's) letters, culminating in a lovely balcony scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. The second act sees Cyrano and Christian going off to war, with Roxane in pursuit, unable to be parted from her love. When she tells Christian that she loves him for his soul, and would love him even if he were ugly, he realizes that it's Cyrano she truly loves, not him. It's a tragically bittersweet ending, as truths are revealed too late.
|Roxane and Cyrano|
(Emily Gunyou Halaas and J.C. Cutler)
This wonderful cast of nine seems much larger, as everyone except for J.C. plays multiple roles, quickly coming and going from the stage with dizzying speed. Of special note are Jon Andrew Hegge and Craig Johnson who each create such different characters they're almost unrecognizable from one to the other, with fast and fantastic costume changes happening backstage. Jon transforms from the town drunk to the kindly nun, and Craig from the theater owner to Roxane's over-protective and fluttery pastry-loving nurse, and several characters in between.
When the director is also a choreographer as Joe Chvala is, you know that movement is going to be an interesting and integral part of the show, as it is here. One example is Cyrano's famous battle against 100 thugs, which is a delight to watch (with fight choreography by Annie Enneking). The period costumes (by Matthew J. LeFebvre) are gorgeous, from Roxane's flouncy dresses to the men in tall boots and capes. The set (by Robin McIntyre) is dominated by two large set pieces with stairs and a balconies that move and turn to create different shapes and spaces on stage. Lastly, there are also a few musical interludes that feel organic and are quite fun and lovely.
Cyrano is many things in one play - great comedy, a tragically beautiful love story, sword fights and epic battles, and beautifully poetic language. This impressive production is playing at Park Square Theatre now through April 6.