BWW Review: CYRANO at Two River Theater is a Brilliant Adaptation of the Classic French Tale
"Poetry without passion is as bad as passion without poetry"
by Roxane in Cyrano
Two River Theater (TRT) has launched its 2019/20 Season with a production that is sure to please. Cyrano by Jason O'Connell and Brenda Withers is adapted from the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac written by Edmond Rostand. The TRT show is directed by Meredith McDonough and presented as a co-production with the critically acclaimed Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival based in Garrison, New York. This timeless story that combines romance, comedy, and adventure is brought to life by a splendid cast of five. We had the pleasure of attending a student matinee where the teens, like us, were enthralled by the presentation.
Cyrano is quite faithful to the plot of the original French classic, yet the clever adaptation about a lovers' triangle is ideal for a modern audience. It tells of Cyrano, a witty and talented wordsmith and a courageous man who is very self-conscious, particularly because of his long nose. He longs for his childhood sweetheart Roxane, but she is enamoured with a handsome cadet, Christian. Because Christian cannot express himself well in words, Cyrano volunteers to pen poetic letters to Roxanne on his behalf. She accepts these letters as Christian's own, and is swept away by their beauty. As the story unfolds, the men are called to battle in defense of their country. Yet Cyrano continues to write daily letters to Roxanne from Christian and makes certain that they are delivered.
The cast is nothing short of remarkable. The troupe is led by Jason O'Connell as Cyrano. Roxane is portrayed Britney Simpson who also appears as a Cadet. Rounding out the company is Luis Quintero as Christian, Sister Marthe, and Bellerose; Chris Thorn as Montfleury, Count De Guiche, Ragueneau, and Cadet; and Nance Williamson as Le Bret, Duenna, Lisa, Monk, and an Unsavory Character. While O'Connell portrays Cyrano throughout the show, the other actors assume multiple roles so nimbly, it seems that the cast is much larger. Williamson, in particular, makes quick character changes that seem impossible.
The fast moving show will keep audiences intrigued. Memorable moments include LeBret and Cyrano speaking as friends; Ragueneau and his wife in their bake shop; Roxane telling Cyrano of her love for Christian; the balcony love scene as Cyrano prompts Christian with words to woo Roxane; Count De Guiche's calling the troops to battle; Roxane's unexpected appearance on the combat front; and Cyrano's final visit to Roxane at the convent.
The Creative Team has done a top job of bringing Cyrano to the Red Bank stage. They include scenic design by Kristen Robinson; costume design by Jessica Wegener Shay; lighting design by Paul Toben and sound design by Palmer Hefferan. The casting is by Stephanie Klapper Casting and the production stage manager is Janelle Caso.
Be sure to put Cyrano on your fall entertainment schedule. Gather your group and enjoy! We congratulate Artistic Director, John Dias and Managing Director, Michael Hurst on a great start to TRT's new season.
Cyrano is being performed in Two River's Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ through Sunday, October 13. The show runs for two and a half hours with one fifteen minute intermission. Ticket prices range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $25 tickets are available for every performance; $25 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $25 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available by visiting https://tworivertheater.org/ or by calling 732.345.1400.
Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson