Thursday night's opening of "Cyrano de Bergerac" was a well-paced, interesting, never dull, production. The final scene set in the monastery Sgarden was so exceptional it could be termed professional, but one does not apply such a term to a work of art. The exquisitely staged scene projected a feeling of peace, beauty and serenity. The weaving lines of nuns in their long white habits were an inspiration.
The play did however have some flaws. The first. scene of "Cyrano" was slow starting. Possibly due to the opening night jitters, the performers looked as if they were concentrating on stage blocking rather than having a blast at the local water hole. The dialogue was partially indecipherable and overlapping, making it difficult to follow the necessary introductions to the characters and plot.
Not meant to be funny, the entrance of the Saristocracy provided the biggest laugh in the first act. With their wigs, heels, lipstick and limp wrists it was confusing as to whether they were portraying arrogance and foppishness, or just a group in "drag." From the audiance reaction, the consesus was the latter.
The scene picked up in pace with the entrance of Cyrano, Played by Tom Blank, a member of the drama faculty, and the director. His performance was commendable, especially after having stepped into the role on short notice. He obviously knows his craft, moves well and commands attention. His wig could have been a little less ugly; actually, it looked as if he had just come out of the rain.
One slight disadvantage Blank might have is a soft voice inclined to upper tones. This made it difficult to catch a few of his words.
The same evaluation aplies to both the role of Roxanne, played by Kathy van Schaik, and the role of Christian, played by Thor Edgell. Both roles were well cast, and both performers brought an excellent characterization to their parts. Edgell not only looked the part of the inarticulate Christian, but worked hard at staying in character at all times. Van Schaik, as Roxanne, had an interesting, refined, accent and her voice should gain resonance with practice and time. She gave a very good performance as Roxanne, portraying her as a woman ofdepth and character.
The interesting climax of the first act was a very realistic duel scene, beautifully and convincingly fought.
The second act opened up with the.introduction of Lisa, played by Debra Rae Hamby. The trampish, unfaithful wife of Ragueneau the baker was too neat, clean, and lady-like to give color to the role. The part could have used some of the fire of a "Carmen," for a woman of that era, working in a bakery and putting in a lot of overtime with her husband's friends, would have had dirty hands, not to mention troublekeeping her hair neat.
Ragueneau, Lisa's unsuspecting husband, was played by Marvin Torrez. He has good diction and a strong voice which carries well. The miscast Torrez who looks more like a football player rather than an asthetic poet, nonetheless handled the role competently and clearly.
The smooth, professional peformance of Tom Blank was closely followed by that of Rick Franklin as. Le Bret, Cyrano's best friend. Franklin's stage presence, diction and projection were on a professional level and escalated his small role.
Denis Gawronski as the Comte de Guiche was convincing possibly as a spoiled, devious rich kid, but not as a lecherous, middle-aged rich man, coveting the fair maiden.
The supporting roles in general gave strength to the play which moved rapidly and interestingly.
Special accolades to the set 'design, music selection, and special effects. The set design convicingly enhanced the play. The music was delightful, there could have been more of it, and the special effects were clever and effective. The early morning fog, and the falling leaves were bits of special effects that added a great deal to the play's realism.
Despite some minor flaws, "Cyrano" was a winner, goodness nose!