PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: In Cyrano de Bergerac, L'amour Rides Again (But Not Side-Saddle)

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12 Oct 2012

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Soller's Christian started out a blonde in previews but darkened into a brunette closer to the opening. "I had a Kurt Cobain wig, but they decided to tone it down and make the character a little more accessible to the audience. I'm glad they did."

But isn't it a little daunting to play someone who is acknowledged by all as a male beauty and, thus, a suitable vessel for Cyrano's sweet-nothings to Roxane? Do you ever doubt they got the wrong guy? "Every day, man, every day," he confessed with an embarrassed laugh. "I can't believe they cast me as Christian. That's not the side of the character I identify with. I identify with his humanity. He's got such a noble sense of honor, this thing we don't have nowadays in every day life.

"With the ladies, he has this handicap to follow through and succeed, and, historically, I've never been able to see the signs from the ladies. I've never been able to know when the window was open, so I guess maybe I identify with that."

Soller was letting his new status as a Broadway actor settle in. "It's something I always wanted to do — to be on Broadway and to do it with this cast and with Jamie. I worked once before with Jamie in London — in The Faith Machine by Alexi Kaye Campbell at the Royal Court, so I jumped at the chance to work with Jamie again, and, when I knew Doug was attached to this, I said, 'That's it. I gotta do it.' To work with people of this caliber, on Broadway, I can't compute it. I gotta pinch myself."

Wouldn't you know the most hissable character in the play — Comte de Guiche, who'd dare deflower the fair, loved-from-afar Roxane — is the most eloquently spoken! Patrick Page's pristine enunciation and long flowing hair recall that stylish fop, John Emery. Because of the resemblance, Emery was believed to be John Barrymore's illegitimate offspring and was, in fact, for four years, the only husband of Tallulah Bankhead. "Wouldn't you have loved to hear them talking!" quipped Page.

This is Page's third Cyrano role. "The first time I played Le Bret, then I played Cyrano in two productions, and now I'm de Guiche. One day I hope to play Ragueneau."

Patrick Page and Jamie Lloyd
Photo by Monica Simoes

But, for now, de Guiche suits him just fine: "I like the growth of the character. I think he's surprising. It's a really interesting play in its period because villains were very clear-cut, 19th-century melodrama — 'I can't pay the rent'/'You must pay the rent.' And de Guiche has some of that in him but — it was written at the same time as Ibsen and Strindberg and Chekhov are beginning to write. There's a real depth and a melancholy I find to de Guiche that's interesting. The part is spare. You have to really land your moments because you're not given an enormous amount of text to do it in, and I find that to be really challenging, like writing in haiku."

Having played Cyrano twice before, why didn't he go out for understudy this time? "That would have been a lot of work," he pointed out. "This is a new translation. I've done two other translations. You always learn something new from a new translation. When you take a word and translate it, you're interpreting it because a given word can mean so many things. This translation is rougher, more modern, more muscular, sweatier, grittier. That side really comes out in this version."

Almost all of Page's Broadway career has been spent in the same half-block area on 42nd Street. He previously played the American Airlines Theatre as Henry VIII to Frank Langella's Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. He comes to de Guiche from next door at the Foxwoods Theatre where he was The Green Goblin in Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark. Across the street at the New Amsterdam, he has done The Lion King and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! But not even the imminent Christmas coming of the Grinch could shake him loose from de Guiche, so the role will be played by Jeff McCarthy (a.k.a. Officer Lockstock of Urinetown).


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