Deaf West Theatre incorporates both hearing and hearing-impaired actors in the casts of their musicals and plays. For musicals, songs and dialogue are often sung and signed with actors doubling as characters — one speaking and singing and one signing. The Los Angeles-based company initiated its musical endeavors in 2000 with another literary classic, Oliver!
The classic Edmond Rostand play Cyrano de Bergerac follows the story of a supposed physically deformed man who falls in love with a woman who falls in love with a good-looking man. The protagonist aids his attractive rival suitor by giving him words to woo her with.
No cast or creatives have been associated with the new work. Deaf West artistic director Ed Waterstreet is reportedly planning to cast a deaf Cyrano, a hard-of-hearing Roxanne and a vocal Christian, according to Variety.
The play has been staged for Broadway in a number of revivals, the latest in 1984 casting Derek Jacobi in the title role. Rostand's work has also been musicalized a number of times including Cyrano (book and lyrics by Anthony Burgess, music by Michael J. Lewis) — for which star Christopher Plummer won a Tony Award — and the Joop van den Ende-produced Cyrano — The Musical (book and lyrics by Koen Van Dijk, music by Ad Van Dijk). In 1987, Steve Martin also adapted the play into the film "Roxanne."
The company has also commissioned a new play by Stephen Sachs, tentatively titled Open Window. The playwright-director co-founded The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in 1990 and serves as managing artistic director. His directing credits include The Boys in the Band,The Men from the Boys, After the Fall, The Road to Mecca, Unchanging Love, Lonely Planet and The Seagull as well as deaf/hearing versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 'night Mother, Ashes, and Duet for One. As a playwright, he has penned Central Avenue, Sweet Nothing in My Ear, Mother's Day, The Golden Gate and The Baron in the Trees. No dates have been announced for either work, but they are expected to be ready for Deaf West Theatre in the new year.
For more information on Deaf West Theatre, located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, CA, visit www.deafwest.org.