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The Theatre at AACC’s Cyrano

An ode to panache*

Cyrano, an original adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 classic, is given a new staging by the Theatre at AACC. The set, costumes, incidental music and minimalist staging all covey timelessness to the well-known story. Guest director Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski adds strong moments and concepts.
    Cyrano is a gifted poet, musician and swordsman. His brash confidence is overshadowed only by his large nose, which causes him to lose all confidence when it comes to expressing his love for the lady Roxane. When Roxane expresses her infatuation for a new soldier, Christian, instead of fighting for her or retreating, Cyrano brings the two together.
    Christian, in turn, asks for Cyrano’s help in expressing his feeling to Roxane, and Cyrano writes the love letters — thus expressing his love through Christian and placing himself in the middle of two lovers.
    Cyrano is a production of the AACC Theatre Department, but program notes do not make clear how many of the 15 actors are students at the college. Community members take two of the lead roles, and theater coordinator Lars Tatom plays Cyrano. The mixed levels of skill make for an uneven production.
    Overall, projection and diction are problematic, while the musical interludes are loud and startling.
    The bare set works very well, most especially in the Arras battle scene where it gathers a universal gravitas that is unexpected and effective.
    Tatom’s Cyrano commands the stage he strides upon, yet his interpretation is vexing. His Cyrano shows neither anguish nor nobility over wooing his love on behalf of another. He just does it, and that robs the character of his internal beauty. His booming voice commands attention, unfortunately drawing even more attention to the slight voices of some of the other actors.
    Jennette Nelligan, a Towson student, is miscast as Roxane, for she lacks presence to match either Cyrano or Christian.
    As army Count DeGuiche, Jerry Vess projects appropriate despicableness. As Cyrano’s friends, Erick W. Alexis as LeBret and Vincent Capuano as Ragueneau are strong and believable. As the handsome but inarticulate Christian, Rashad Ferguson brings charisma and strength.
    The program for Cyrano notes that this is an original adaptation, but strangely the author is left uncredited. At the end, Cyrano takes credit for his letters. Would that this adaptation had done likewise because it ably condenses characters and action and updates the language without losing cleverness or verbal interplay for which the play is known.

    Set and light designer: Rob Berry. Stage manager: Grace Canfield.
    Playing Nov. 10-12 at 8pm Th-Sa; 2pm Su at Kauffman Theater, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold. $15 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-777-2457.

*Rostand introduced the word panache into the English language.