While New York's Roundabout will get its Cyrano de Bergerac this season, Paris is currently getting three productions of Edmond Rostand's classic play. This is not a pure coincidence; 1997 marks the centennial of the creation of the play.
Cyrano's triumphant historical opening night took place on Dec. 27, 1897, at the Theatre de la Porte de Saint-Martin. Ever since, this play has always been popular to French and foreign audiences, getting seven film adaptations and even two musical treatments on Broadway. The role of Cyrano definitely seems to be a must-play for the most famous French actors.
Pierre Santini, familiar with the character he already portrayed in the 1980s, reprises his role at the Theatre Dejazet. The director, Pino Micol, who is Italian, has influenced his staging with the comedia dell'arte style, focusing on the richness of the text and leaving the stage almost bare but with a few wooden props. Completing the cast are Magali Houth as Roxane and Benoit du Pac as Christian.
At the charming Theatre du Ranelagh, Patrick Prejean, usually remembered for his comic roles, is a surprising Cyrano. Cyrano was a dream role and he now gets the chance to perform it. In this production, Marie-Christine Laurent is Roxane and Georges Gay is Christian.
Without any doubt, Savary's production of Cyrano is the most awaited event of this theatrical season. Savary's first production of this play in 1983 was a very big hit. This new version will probably follow in the footsteps of its predecessor with a very glamourous cast and a much talked-about production. Francis Huster, theatre and film star, will play the long-nosed character while Cristiana Reali, his real-life partner, will be Roxane. The whole company includes 30 members, but, according to press release, the staging will be sober. Jerome Savary, director of the Theatre National de Chaillot, will work with his usual team of lighting designer (Alain Poisson) and costumes designer (Michel Dussarat who designed unforgettable costumes for Savary's last year's hit Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme). This bigger-budget and star-studded production could outshine the two other ones.
For tickets and information on Cyrano de Bergerac:
at the Theatre Dejazet, call 331 48 87 52 55.
at the Theatre du Ranelagh, call 331 42 88 64 44.
at the Theatre National de Chaillot, call 331 53 65 30 00. Opens Sept. 27.
-- By Stephane Ly-Cuong