North Texas Daily

Campus Theatre sets stage with classic ‘Cyrano’

Campus Theatre sets stage with classic ‘Cyrano’

February 04
23:52 2010

By Lori Lee and Graciela Razo / Staff Writer and Senior Staff Writer –

With elaborate backdrops, a custom-made horse carriage and fully rotating set, the stage at the Denton Community Theatre is set for the opening night of “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

A group of local actors and artists will present the classical play of one of history’s most unsightly characters through director Brad Speck’s own vision, beginning tonight.

Cyrano de Bergerac, played Buster Maloney, rehearses the scene where he mortally wounds the Viscount Valvert, played by Jeremy Stein. The Denton Community Theatre production of the Edmond Rostand classic opens Feb. 5. (Photo by Martina Trevino / Photographer)

Speck, a 1979 UNT theater alumnus, said the play is usually done in a more stylized way but that he wanted to work with classical methods of set design— employing turntables, sliding platforms and hand-painted backdrops to recreate Paris the way it was written by Edmond Rostand in 1897.

“I’ve loved this play since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to put it on,” Speck said. “This has been a very interesting and intricate puzzle I have put on.”

Staying loyal to Rostand’s vision
The play tells the story of Cyrano de Bergerac, a brave soldier and well-known poet recognized by his large, grotesque nose, played by Denton actor Buster Maloney, and his pursuit of the woman of his dreams, Roxane, played by Denton actress Polly Maynard.

“It’s all about hope, love, dreams and inadequacies with Cyrano,” Maloney said.

All of the characters are real people taken from history portraying events that actually happened, except the romance between Cyrano and Roxane, who were actually cousins.

Actors will speak in a conversational style and will work on a stage specifically created to match Rostand’s original idea of intricate, detailed scenery, Speck said.

“Every play should be a unique thing,” he said. “The difficulty of putting on this play is one of the reasons why the show doesn’t get done often, because it’s a challenge technically and artistically.”

Complex set design began as soon as auditions were completed six weeks ago. Artists created five different sets to bring on and off the stage throughout the play.

The director said although many community theaters would not normally attempt such a large production, he wanted to put on a daring play.

“I only want to do hard things, and these lines are some of the prettiest lines ever written,” Speck said.

Challenging roles to play
With only six weeks to memorize lines, staging positions and getting into character, assistant director and fight scene choreographer Michael Brittain said, even though the play was a difficult project to pull off, once the stage transforms into the world of Cyrano, it no longer becomes work.

“You get the chance to be someone else and be a part of a world you’re not normally a part of,” Brittain said. “But I really like how the story is what holds the history of Cyrano together.”

Finding who the actors were in their roles was another challenge for the cast, Maloney said.

Dressed in a wig, mustache and a curved prosthetic nose, Maloney said his role as Cyrano was the most difficult part he has ever done. Speaking in the play’s poetic tone and re-learning how to fence for the fight scenes were his biggest challenges, Maloney said.

He tries to find something of the character in himself to help him get in touch with the role, he said.

“A lot of it is getting the feel for the character,” Maloney said. “I discover the character and then that’s how I portray it to the audience.”

As Cyrano proclaims, “for a great nose indicates a great man” during opening night, the dream of Speck as well as the original vision of Edmund Rostand will be portrayed by more than 40 actors on stage.

Speck said he has high hopes for opening weekend of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” especially because of its debut during the Valentine’s Day season.

“It has something for everybody: battle scenes, sword fights, love scenes and romance,” Speck said.

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