Stripped-down 'Cyrano'

Dutch playwright Jo Roets' adaptation of Edmond Rostand's classic "Cyrano de Bergerac" comes to life without all of the trappings of adornment in "The Cyrano Project."

It's "the Cyrano story, deconstructed," says James Edmondson, director of the Southern Oregon University Theatre Arts production set to open in the Center Square Theatre, off South Mountain Avenue on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Performances are set for 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Feb. 22-23, March 1-2 and March 8-9. Matinees are set for 2 p.m. Saturdays, Feb. 23, March 2 and March 9, and Sundays, March 3 and March 10.

"The Cyrano Project" was developed in Belgium as a vehicle to introduce young audiences to Rostand. Edmondson saw a video of the original Antwerp production and later was asked to direct it in 2004 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, he says. The 90-minute production subsequently toured schools and community centers around Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Additional material in the SOU play is provided by local writer Hilary Tate.

"It's similar in style to 'The Fantasticks,' " Edmondson says. "It's very whimsical and fanciful without a lot of stage design or costuming."

Daring swordplay, outrageous, comic relationships and expressions of heroic love are still there, along with the story of a man whose low self-esteem and fear of rejection keep him tongue-tied and prevent him from telling the beautiful Roxane of his feelings for her.

"This is really a play about compassion, as well as self-esteem," Edmondson says. "Everyone wears false noses except for the actor playing Cyrano. We want to emphasize that it is his own fear of rejection that keeps him from courting Roxanne.

"We want the audience to experience tolerance, to learn to value people beyond the packaging. It's about coming to grips with your own appearance and also coming to know your deeper self — and it also has great comic material in it."

Scott Key plays Cyrano, Sazi Bhakti plays Roxanne and Michael Hays plays the witless Christian.

While the original "The Cyrano Project" used only three actors, Edmondson's SOU production includes a cast of 13, with additional actors as narrators to explain the action. The ensemble includes Elizabeth Boulay, Lucas Caldwell, Jimmy Dix, Kameron Fort, Nolan Kenmonth, Delaney Kentzell, Laurel Livezey, Stephanie Neuerberg, Rachel Seeley, Jillian Short, Devin White and Kevin Young.

Scenic design is by Amelia Burke-Holt, light design is by Kelsey Meyer and sound design is by Henry Korlin. Edmondson is a resident director and actor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This is his seventh directorial production for SOU.

Tickets cost $21, $18 for seniors and $6 for students. Call 541-552-6348 or see

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