Theater Reviews

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Richard Rodgers Theatre, New York
Through Dec. 23

Their have been many theatrical and film versions of Edmond Rostand's classic "Cyrano de Bergerac" throughout the years, but it's safe to say that none have been as sexy as the current Broadway revival. Starring the dashing Kevin Kline as the big-nosed, romantic poet, Jennifer Garner making her Broadway debut as the enchanting Roxane, and "Rescue Me" hunk Daniel Sunjata as the tongue-tied but lovestruck soldier Christian, this is a "Cyrano" to make you swoon.

That is not to say that this production staged by British director David Leveaux, which is uneven in its execution and occasionally too broad in its humor, doesn't sometimes make you groan as well. But its virtues well outweigh its flaws.

Those pleasures begin with Kline, playing a role that seems tailor-made for him. The character's combination of nimble verbal dexterity, lighthearted playfulness and poignant melancholy is perfectly suited for the actor's talents, especially his facility for elegant language. Unlike his co-stars, who here adopt a "classical" style of speaking that feels somewhat stiff, Kline is able to deliver his torrents of rapid-fire dialogue with utter naturalness. And his good looks and easy way with a sword make one wonder why he has not yet been cast in an Errol Flynn biopic.

Garner infuses her performance with a natural physicality that seems reminiscent of her "Alias" days. Although the actress is not entirely convincing in her sometimes-strained period mannerisms, her charm and beauty ultimately carry the day, and she displays an appealingly light comic touch.

Sunjata, too, strikes some jarringly contemporary notes. But they are unlikely to be noticed too heavily amid his enjoyably self-effacing humorous shtick and florid hair and costuming that give him the appearance of a figure from the cover of a romantic novel.

The large ensemble also includes such expert supporting players as Chris Sarandon, Max Baker, Concetta Tomei and Euan Morton, who lend the proceedings genuine vitality.

Leveaux, who occasionally veered toward an unnecessary somberness with his productions of such works as "Nine" and "Fiddler on the Roof," invests his staging with a gripping theatricality that hardly wavers, even during the nearly three-hour work's frequent slow spots.

Anthony Burgess' adaptation remains a marvel of gracefulness, and the extravagantly scaled production takes excellent advantage of the large stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, which normally is used for musicals.

CYRANO DE BERGERAC
Presented by Susan Bristow, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley, Barbara Manocherian, Stephanie P. McClelland and Jon B. Platt
Credits:
Playwright: Edmond Rostand
Translated and adapted by: Anthony Burgess
Director: David Leveaux
Set designer: Tom Pye
Costume designer: Gregory Gale
Lighting designer: Don Holder
Sound designer: David Van Tieghem
Cast:
Cyrano: Kevin Kline
Roxane: Jennifer Garner
Christian de Neuvillette: Daniel Sunjata
Ragueneau: Max Baker
Ligniere/Theophraste Renaudot: Euan Morton
Comte de Guiche: Chris Sarandon
Le Bret: John Douglas Thompson
Roxane's Duenna/Sister Marthe: Concetta Tomei
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