The department of theatre arts wrapped its opening weekend of classic play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” with shows on April 20, 21 and 22 in Dailey Theatre.
“Cyrano de Bergerac” is a French play originally written in 1897 by playwright Edmond Rostand. The play follows the story of a 17th century nobleman Cyrano, who has a charming personality and a giant nose he believes is too unattractive to win the love of Roxane. He instead helps Christian, an attractive man without intelligence and wit, enchant Roxane by writing romantic love letters for him to give her.
Nickolas Mclean, senior theater arts and business administration double major, plays the lead role Cyrano. Aleena Maestas, senior theater arts major, plays Christian. Julieta Del Toro, senior theater arts major, plays love interest Roxane.
The cast includes Del Toro, Maestas, Mclean, Giann Bello, freshman theater arts major; Mateo Thomas Cole, freshman English major; Erin Fleming, freshman theater arts major; Daniel Garcia Hernandez, freshman kinesiology major; Victoria Gaspar, freshman theater arts major; Aylin Guzman, junior kinesiology major; Evan Jacobson, freshman theater arts major; Olivia Juarez, junior theater arts major; Robby Meredith, sophomore theater arts major; Giselle Morales, freshman creative writing major; Taylor Murphy, sophomore educational studies; Claire Ng, senior theater arts major; Aiden Olivares, senior theater arts major; Reese Persephone Oliver, sophomore theater arts and rhetoric and communication major; Hannah Steinmann, senior theater arts major; and Olivia Villalobos, freshman theater arts major.
“They did a terrific job. I think the thing that is best and most encouraging is that as they begin to perform the play for an audience, it adds a dimension to their characters that they haven’t had before,” Sean Dillon, professor of theater arts and director of the play, said. “It’s just been our company in the rehearsal room… but now that they’ve had the opportunity to put it in front of an audience, they’re just growing with it and they’re really owning the performances. That’s the thing that’s really gratifying to see.”
The intricate set design and beautiful, historically accurate costumes pulled the audience into the 17th century. The stage was set with lots of texture and geometrical shapes, including a gold chandelier, curtains, a circular background with metallic foil, and stairs.
“This play has 19 actors in it and we have a crew of many more,” Dillon said. “They all worked so hard, not only to perform the show on stage but all of those same actors put in lots of time in building that enormous set, hanging all those lights, focusing them, welding, painting and procuring the props. There’s so much that goes into a show like this and our students really embrace the challenge.”
The audience first met Mclean as Cyrano, with solely his voice belting out from within the crowd. Audience members were surprised and searched around the room for where such a strong voice was coming from until Mclean emerged from the crowd onto the stage, wearing a large prosthetic nose.
That level of interaction set the tone for the rest of this performance of “Cyrano de Bergerac.”
“The audience factor is huge because I like to feed off of the energy of the audience,” Del Toro said. “I felt like (Saturday) we had the best audience. They were very, very engaged (and) laughing, which kind of lifted a weight off of our shoulders to be even more entertaining. They were already on board with it. That’s always what I look forward to is a very happy audience and one that’s engaged, one that’s in it with us.”
Mclean gives a strong monologue about how a woman as lovely as Roxane could ever fall in love with his nose that he finds so hideous. He feels insecure and finds it impossible to win her love, writing romantic poetry for Christian to take credit for his own.
Cyrano is witty, intelligent and seems confident in everything but his appearance. Roxane unknowingly falls in love with Cyrano, as it is him writing the love letters Christian delivers to her.
The audience watches Cyrano in despair as Christian and him go back and forth between hiding the truth from Roxane or not.
Guests laughed at Cyrano’s amusing lines, reacted during battle scenes and held their breaths during tragic moments of loss and defeated love.
The sound design created a dark atmosphere in a battle scene, where the story of Cyrano, Roxane and Christian would take a turn.
Christian is killed in the battle, throwing Roxane into a cry of grief for her loved one. Cyrano breaks the news to Roxane that her lover was, in fact, him.
“What helps me deliver roles as best as I can is to look for what qualities of the characters I already find in myself,” Del Toro said. “I think that Roxanne is a very, very sensitive character. She is very quick to fall in love. She’s very loyal to her love. She’s enamored with the idea of love and a whole sensibility about that.”
After Christian’s tragic death, Roxane and Cyrano sit together on a bench, with autumn leaves falling down on them. Roxane looks like a widow in an all-black lace gown. She confesses her love for Cyrano, reflecting on the fact that it was his words that she loved so much, and he finally accepts that he could be loved.
“While I can’t relate to losing lovers to death or anything like that, I can definitely relate to being starstruck with someone, to have a crush… that kind of heartbreak can happen over a breakup or something similar, so I just pulled from that,” Del Toro added. “I think my own personal interpretation of Roxanne was unique to me because I emphasize that sensibility she has.”
The audience clapped and cheered as Roxane and Cyrano won their happy ending.
“The energy seemed to have gotten more embraced. I felt as if the audience slowly but surely realized that they can indeed laugh and embrace their laughs,” Olivia Juarez, junior theater arts major, who played both a cadet and thief. “That’s exactly what we want. They can be as loud as they want. Both the audience and actors got comfortable being in the same room.”
Juarez said she looks forward to the closing weekend of the play. “Cyrano de Bergerac” will run at the Dailey Theatre on April 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., and April 30 at 2 p.m. Faculty and staff admission is free. Student admission is $5, and general admission is $15.
“That’s the beauty of theater. You’re never going to see the same performance twice because it’s a human interaction, it’s a human experience,” Del Toro said. “We humans are not capable of replicating absolutely everything twice like that… I think that also justifies why it’s called the plays, because we have fun with changing it up and finding new nuances each and every time to perform.”
Anabel Martinez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.