Theater Diva! See Jasmine Cephas Jonas and Peter Dinklage Sing Up a Must-See Hot Mess In CyranoBy Caroline Cao | November 25, 2019 | Entertainment
I came in blind knowing that Cyrano was adapted from Edmond Rostand’s 1893 play. Contemporary flourishes to centuries-old material can elevate an existing ancient work into flowing sensibilities, an opinion which I apply to the upbeat Head over Heels, a Go-Go’s jukebox. But does the use of contemporary music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner and simplistic lyrics by Matt Berninger and Caron Besse work for this Cyrano? Well, 50-50. For speaking scenes, the constant use of orchestral music grates the drama rather than furthering it. The numbers in Act II do reach the heart though. There is a spellbinding group soldier number that hits like a ton of bricks and gracefully choreographed with the frenzy of warfare by Jeff and Rick Kuperman.
As for the story itself, poor Roxanne! Played by Jasmine Cephas Jonas of Hamilton fame, Roxanne really wants her man to have some brains. From the beginning, I felt Jonas had little to work with, being given a Disney Princess “I Want” song in response to an unwanted engagement. But her character shows a delicious wit and guile, when she plays to masculine pride and feminine connections to influence her well-connected fiancé, a Duke, to protect the soldier she loves. She also falls in love at first sight, with the kind, but not very bright Christian (a charming Blake Jenner). When she confesses this to a friend, the snarky and prideful titular poet Cyrano, played by a cutthroat Peter Dinklage, he resolves to help her despite his clandestine feelings for her. He ends up writing the letters for Christian, using his gift of gab to bring Christian and her together and in some ways, vicariously expressing his love for Roxanne through Christian.
All-in-all, despite the rather rude ending that doesn’t give breathing space to absorb the final tragedy, Cyrano is a strange hot mess. Go see it.
To learn more about Cyrano, visit thenewgroup.com/Cyrano.
photo credit: The New Group