By Kenneth Jones
20 Aug 2007
A strictly limited 10-week engagement of the 1897 French drama about the ugly, large-nosed soldier-poet — and the ghostwriting he does to woo fair Roxane for a pal — starts Oct. 12 toward a Nov. 1 opening at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
Academy Award and Tony Award winner Kline ("A Fish Called Wanda," The Pirates of Penzance, On the 20th Century) will star as poet-swordsman Cyrano with Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner (TV's "Alias") making her Broadway debut as Roxane (she was an understudy in A Month in the Country for Roundabout Theatre Company in 1995). Tony Award nominee Daniel Sunjata (Take Me Out) rounds out the love triangle as Christian.
Edmond Rostand's romantic classic, in a translation and adaptation by the late Anthony Burgess ("A Clockwork Orange"), will be directed by Tony Award nominee David Leveaux (Nine, Fiddler on the Roof, The Glass Menagerie, Jumpers, The Real Thing).
Tickets to Cyrano de Bergerac go on sale via an exclusive pre-sale to American Express cardholders Aug. 22, and to the general public on Sept. 8 at www.Ticketmaster.com.
David Leveaux has directed nine Broadway revivals: The Glass Menagerie, Jumpers, Fiddler on the Roof, Nine, Betrayal, The Real Thing, Electra, Anna Christie and A Moon for the Mibsegotten. He was Tony-nominated for his direction of Moon for the Misbegotten, Anna Christie, The Real Thing, Nine and Jumpers.
The versatile Kline is known for his work both on stage and screen. He recently starred in the title role of Off-Broadway's King Lear and also played in Mother Courage and Her Children and The Seagull for The Public Theater. Kline was Tony-nominated for his stint in Broadway's Henry IV and won Tonys for his work in The Pirates of Penzance and On the Twentieth Century. The Juilliard graduate has appeared in the films "Sophie's Choice," "Dave," "In & Out," "Soapdish," "De-Lovely," "The Big Chill," "The Ice Storm" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Kline won the Academy Award for his performance in "A Fish Called Wanda."
Jennifer Garner won a Golden Globe Award for her work in "Alias"; she has also been nominated for four Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Sydney Bristow on that television series. Her other screen credits include "Catch and Release," "Elektra," "13 Going on 30," "Daredevil," "Catch Me If You Can," "Felicity," "Rennie's Landing," "Pearl Harbor," "Dude, Where's My Car?" and "Time of Your Life." Garner made her Broadway debut in the 1995 revival of A Month in the Country; she was the understudy for the roles of Katya and Verochka.
Sunjata currently stars in FX's "Rescue Me," the critically acclaimed one-hour drama currently in production for its third season, and as Reggie Jackson in the ESPN miniseries "The Bronx is Burning" with John Turturro and Oliver Platt. Film credits include "The Devil Wears Prada," "Melinda and Melinda," "Bad Company" and "Noel." In 2004, Sunjata portrayed Langston Hughes in the Rodney Evans film "Brother to Brother." His television credits include notable appearances on "Law & Order: SVU" and Sex and the City", as well as co-starring roles in the WB's series "D.C." and Showtime's film "The Feast of All Saints." He was nominated for a Tony Award for Take Me Out, the 2003 Tony Award winning play by Richard Greenberg. He has also appeared in The Public Theater's Henry VIII and Twelfth Night at the Guthrie Theater.
A production of Cyrano de Bergerac has not been mounted on Broadway since 1984. The original production opened in 1897 starring Benoit-Constant Coquelin, who performed the role over 400 times at the Theatre de la Porte-Saint-Martin in Paris. A translated production opened at The Garden Theatre in New York in 1899. The longest-running Broadway production starred Walter Hampden in 1923. Jose Ferrer won a Tony Award for his performance in the role in a 1946 Broadway staging. For a special performance of it, Ferrer played the title role for the first four acts and Hampden assumed it for the fifth.
The most famous film versions are the 1950 picture starring Ferrer (for which he won the Academy Award) and the 1990 French-language version starring Gerard Depardieu. In 1987, Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah starred in a comedic re-interpretation called "Roxanne"
"Further engraining itself into theatrical and world history, Cyrano de Bergerac is cited as being responsible for introducing the word 'panache' (literally translated as 'white plume,' but more generally known to mean 'elegant assertiveness') into the English language as the only turn of phrase that captures the true spirit of its hero," according to production notes.
The plays of Rostand (1868-1918) include , Le Gant Rouge, Les Deux Pierrots, Ou Le Souper Blanc, Les Romanesques (which was adapted into The Fantasticks), L'aiglon, La Samaritaine, La Princesse Lointaine and Chantecler.
Burgess (1917-1993) was a British novelist, critic and composer. Burgess' fiction includes the "The Long Day Wanes, Nothing Like the Sun," "A Clockwork Orange" and "Earthly Powers." He wrote critical studies of Joyce, Hemingway, Shakespeare and Lawrence, produced the treatises on linguistics "Language Made Plain" and "A Mouthful of Air," and was a prolific journalist, writing in several languages. He also translated and adapted Oedipus the King, and Carmen for the stage; scripted "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Moses the Lawgiver" for the screen; invented the prehistoric language spoken in "Quest for Fire."