I was excited to see that a production of Cyrano would be at Portland Center Stage from April 4 — May 3, 2015 on the U.S. Bank Main Stage, with Opening Night last night on April 10, which I attended. You may be already familiar with the story of Cyrano via the fun modern adaption in the Steve Martin/Daryl Hannah movie Roxanne (which I confess I saw many times as a kid and still love) or more traditional Cyrano de Bergerac lavish French movie for which Gérard Depardieu was nominated for an Oscar even though it was non-English speaking (among many other 33 nominations and 20 awards the actors and movie were nominated and won). The version at Portland Center Stage (PCS) is a translation and interpretation by Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner, and directed by Jane Jones, of the original play by Edmund Rostand (1868 – 1918) .
The PCS production of Cyrano straddles both those lines of fun and traditional, providing the lush 17th century setting in France and costumes of the original (same time period as the Three Musketeers) and flowy poetic prose, but also adapting the French romance and injecting comedy to modern sensibilities. It has both heart and humor.
Portland Center Stage production of Cyrano poster, Art by Michael Buchino
At a high level, Cyrano is a story about a man (who actually existed in real life) who you would traditionally see as a hero- he’s a swashbuckling swordfighter, well-read and articulate enough to be witty in banter and poetic in writing, the character of Cyrano is literally the definition of panache. But, although he’s brave outwardly to everyone who perceive him, even reckless, Cyrano’s weakness is that he is not brave in love because of his own insecurity and self doubts about his looks, specifically his large nose.
Andrew McGinn as Cyrano. From Portland Center Stage’s new adaptation of the classic romantic comedy, both photos by Patrick Weishampel
All of this comes to a head when the woman he loves, Roxanne, tells him she has a crush on a handsome new man in town named Christian. When Cyrano learns Christian returns that attraction, he becomes the ultimate wingman of all time to help Christian romance her. Exciting battles and laughs but also romantic dialogue and tugging at our heartstrings follow.
(L-R) Damon Kupper, Andrew McGinn and Chris Harder // (L-R) Leif Norby and Jenn Taylor. From Portland Center Stage’s new adaptation of the classic romantic comedy, both photos by Patrick Weishampel
Performance Times and Prices (Rush tickets are $20, youth/student tickets $25. See more details and other ticket specials for groups or military here):
- Evenings at 7:30 PM: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun ($36-63) and Fri or Sat ($36-$69)
- Matinees: 2 PM on Saturday and Sundays or Noon on Thursdays ($36-52)
The run time of the play is about 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one intermission. Cyrano is recommended for ages 10+, children under 6 are not permitted at any PCS production.
If you don’t know the story, some thoughts to consider after watching the story are that I might suggest over cocktails or dinner include,
- Does Cyrano help Christian woo Roxane because he selflessly wants her to be happy? Or is he being selfish or prideful because he risks his life easily but won’t take the risk of the truth?
- The other men admire Cyrano for living a life where he does and says what he wants, whenever he wants, being true to himself. But that’s not true with Roxane. What part of Cyrano’s life do you think is the truth and what is the charade?
- Is Roxane worthy of the love of Christian and Cyrano?
As always, the Armory Cafe is always open before, during and after performances so if you want to grab a bite and a cocktail before the show,as they are always open 1.5 hours before the show, and you can take your beverage (with a lid) to enjoy during the show. Did you know you can also avoid the long lines at intermission by before going in to enjoy the first act, pre-order and pay for your drink to be ready for you at intermission with a sign at intermission? Seriously genius.
As always, they have a few themed cocktails invented based on the current shows. I enjoyed the Roxane with Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rose, St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, and Peychaud’s Bitters sugar cube and also the Mon Panache with Monopolowa Vodka, vanilla simple and pear nectar.
If you want to continue to a meal with a French theme after the show, I would also recommend Little Bird, a French Bistro located only less than half a mile away and open until midnight everyday (and bonus, 10 PM -midnight is their late happy hour). Other nearby French options might be Brasserie Montmartre or if you are looking at eats before a matinee or after the Tuesday early show, Nuvrei or Le Bouchon.
If you are interested, there is also a special FREE event PCS will be hosting on Sunday April 26 from 4 – 7:30 PM, the La Fête de Rostand. In the Armory lobby between the matinee and evening performances of Cyrano (4:30-7 PM) they are holding a celebration in honor of the playwright of Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmund Rostand and all things French. During that time PCS will have specialty cocktails, French press coffee, champagne and pastries from the Armory Café and local musicians performing music in French.
Because I attended on Opening Night, I had a chance to enjoy a few extras, including the always fun centerpieces they have upstairs to reflect the production (Roses with Noses here for Cyrano). After the show there were some themed appetizers such as “French cheese platters”, some sort of pastry cylinder filled with ratatouille, two types of tartines, and mini galettes (galettes are mentioned in the play, as well as several other baked goods and food in 2 difference scenes!). And they had some people making balloon swords!
Are you familiar with the Cyrano story, from reading it in school, the movies/plays? What are your thoughts on the idea of a character/person like Cyrano?
Disclosure: I was invited to see this production, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.