Peggy Sue Dunigan

Cyrano de Bergerac

By - Sep 11th, 2007 02:52 pm
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The panache of Cyrano De Bergerac resonated throughout the Quadracci Powerhouse Theatre at The Rep on opening weekend. Cyrano’s indomitable soul overcomes unsightly features through his unabashed ability to love, conquering both the stage and the audience to begin the 2007 season.

Directed by Sanford Robbins from the nationally renowned Professional Theater Training Program (PTTP) in Delaware, which originated at UWM, Cyrano is a tour de force for graduates of the program. Lee Ernst, who studied under Robbins, creates a believable and honorable Cyrano, wholehearted in his unrequited love for his distant cousin, Roxanne. Whether reciting poetic refrains while dueling swords or under the moonlight to Roxanne, Ernst delivers an exceptional persona true to playwright Edmond Rostand’s panache. Add the fight choreography developed by Ernst for the production and the audience begins to understand the complete package this resident Rep actor brings to the theater.

Two other graduates of the PTTP include Erin Partin debuting as Roxanne and Andre Martin performing as Christian de Neuvillette. Both light the stage, as lovers and actors, especially Partin as she imbues Roxanne with comely dignity. Torrey Hanson as Rageneau the pastry chef, another PTTP actor, adds comic delight with his patisserie poetry. And a recent performer from the same program, Benjamin Reigal – Ernst’s son – is sure to follow in his father’s footlights as both actor and fight captain.

But this Cyrano uses the polish of the PTTP in combination with the superb costume design of Matthew J. LeFebvre who adorns the characters with every ruffle of romance. Lace, bows, tassels and tulle, with wonderfully imaginative shoes, addresses the play’s theatricality. Overhead “the lamps are lit” when two chandeliers rise above the beautifully dressed actors to begin the performance. Linda Buchanan’s scenic design, adaptable and appropriately restrained, allows the candlelight to illuminate the words and performances, particularly in scene three under full moonshine.

However, the romantic soul of the story, that Cyrano’s love must go unspoken because of a long and protruding nose, a supposedly ugly presence, is timeless in its telling. In a society requiring more physical perfection than ever before, amid the constant picture of youth, Cyrano De Bergerac reminds us that beauty is window dressing. It is in the depths of spirit, wit, and wisdom, behind those curtains, where love resides. Speaking of heartbreaking tragedy beneath the comedy in the final act, Roxanne says, “I have lost my love twice.” The audience understands the double disappointment of love misplaced and squandered, but also the broken belief that outside appearances are of more value than inner character and integrity.

Robbins and Ernst, with the large supporting cast of The Rep, produce three hours of theater demonstrating extraordinary romantic panache. Continuing until October 7,
Cyrano De Bergerac, with a soul continually worth revisiting, offers a tragic lesson under the guise of laughter in love and life. VS

The Rep presents Cyrano De Bergerac in the Powerhouse Quadrucci Theater at the Repertory Theater on East Wells. For information: 414.224. 9490 or

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