What was your reaction when you first learned you would play this iconic character?
I was excited, of course, because it's always fun to play a title character (except in the case of Waiting for Godot), but a little worried, too. I have had a long-standing relationship to this play. In the 1990's I helped found a theatre company in Charlottesville, Foolery, and our first production was the fruit of a year-long meditation on Cyrano de Bergerac. In that year I came to have complicated feelings about the play and so I worried now that I'd be too bogged down in old work to be able to bring a fresh eye to the ASC's production. Fortunately, our --ahem-- accelerated rehearsal schedule doesn't allow for much wallowing in the past.
What do you like about Cyrano (the character) and what frustrates you?
Because I am not immune to the manipulations of a shamelessly romantic work like this, I admire all the stuff you're supposed to admire about Cyrano: his wit, his self-sufficiency, his sense of honor. But if I knew the guy in real life, I'd probably say something like LeBret says to him in the play. "Dude. You've got a big nose. So what? Ask the girl out."
Once you actually started wearing the nose, did it make a difference in your rehearsal process?
I imagine it probably had more of an effect on my colleagues. I can see and feel the nose, of course, but the only internal effect that it has on me is that it contributes to the astounding amount of body heat that I produce during the performance.
What is the process for putting on the nose each performance?
Our understudy/production intern Jordan Zwick glues the nose to my face and then uses stage makeup to blend it into my skin. She's gotten pretty good at it, and it now takes only 30 minutes or so.
You're a pretty witty person. Do you think you could go up against Cyrano?
I'd take that Frenchy. Only he delivers his best zingers in rhyming couplets. I'm not so good with that.
What should audience members expect when they come see Cyrano? What will surprise them?
They should expect laughs and tears and sword fights and kisses and all the other stuff that makes theatre great. An audience of my generation may know this story mainly through the Steve Martin movie, "Roxanne." If that is so, they should expect to be surprised by the ending.
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