The drama department will be putting on the play Cyrano de Bergerac in the LIU auditorium April 29-30 at 7:00 p.m. The play follows Cyrano de Bergerac, the witty yet unattractive poet in his quest to win the heart of Roxane. Cyrano has trouble telling Roxane about his feelings because he has an abnormally large nose.
“It’s like Romeo and Juliet with a love triangle and a big nose,” junior English major Matthew Underwood said.
Underwood was cast as Cyrano at the beginning of the semester. He comes from an acting background, but meant to put it on the backburner until he finished his degree. To fulfill a credit requirement, Underwood signed up for the acting class.
“Cyrano de Bergerac hits on some readily accessible tropes; it’s a guy who feels like he has everything, and he does, but his appearance holds him back,” Underwood said. “He’s the guy who feels like he can never get the girl because of the way he looks. I think that’s what has made the play so popular for so long.”
Director and acting professor Susan Arias fell in love with Cyrano in college when she designed the set and lighting for the show. Arias also saw the play done in Paris.
“I normally do an American play in the spring,” Arias said. “But because I am returning to Hawaii I wanted to direct my favorite play, Cyrano.”
Two years ago English department chair Dr. Bridget Drinka approached Arias with the idea of starting two acting classes. It had been ten years since UTSA offered acting courses.
“We wouldn’t have a class if it wasn’t for [Arias],” Underwood said. “She’s leaving it in a much better place than she found it. Anyone can be proud of that.”
Underwood and Arias said Cyrano de Bergerac is a difficult play to produce.
“I have not had the caliber of actors who could carry the show until now,” Arias said. “It is about honor, integrity and love. The language is exquisite and the humor hits at many different levels.”
Underwood is the assistant director in addition to the lead role.
“I come from kind of an intense theatre background,” Underwood said. “It’s me trying to not just direct, but teach and show them some of the things I’ve learned.”
The play’s villain, Comte de Guiche, is another man in love with Roxane. Senior classical studies major Stephen Young believes that like Cyrano, his character is easy for the audience to relate to.
“I really like working with [Underwood],” Young said. “It’s almost like going to acting school, just working with him.”
Senior English major Marisa Creech plays Roxane, the center of the story’s conflict.
“Roxane is considered the most beautiful,” Creech said. “At first she comes off as shallow because she’s attracted to Christian because he’s beautiful.”
Christian, played by senior English major Eric Repp, is another of Cyrano’s rivals.
“I like the dynamic between Cyrano and Christian,” Repp said. “We have the right people in this play, who are all on the same page.”
Cyrano has been adapted many times since its publication. Kevin Kline did a stage adaptation of the play, and Steve Martin starred with Daryl Hannah in the 1987 film, Roxanne.
“It’s in the fabric of our culture,” Repp said. “People know the story, they just maybe haven’t read Cyrano.”
The class is only scheduled to meet once a week, which isn’t enough time for the cast to fine tune their performances.
“Every semester we don’t know where we’re going to preform or when,” Repp said. “We have no resources but despite all these things working against us we still do whatever we can to pull it off.”