Graydon RoyceStar Tribune
April 4, 2016
Starting with the very best ingredients does not guarantee the success of a theatrical adaptation. Consider the checkered history of "Cyrano de Bergerac" as a stage musical. The crashing thunder of full orchestra sadly curdles the delicate fragrance that distinguishes Edmond Rostand's original play.
Writer Bradley Greenwald and composer Robert Elhai have approached the challenge of bringing music to Cyrano with a different tack in "C.," which had its premiere Saturday in a Theater Latté Da production at the Ritz Theater.
Greenwald and Elhai rarely allow the music to trample on Cyrano's bravado, his fragile insecurity and his self sacrifice. Melody and instrument are unmistakably there but they express themselves in a solo fife, a guitar, a piano, a small combo, bass line or an a cappella voice. Rare for a musical, the song seems an essential part of the action.
In fashioning music that springs from the life of the play, Greenwald and Elhai manage a small triumph in elevating the poetry while retaining the enduring charm, honesty and nobility of Cyrano's story. The finest illustration is the lovely and famous balcony scene in which Cyrano, hidden by the night, expresses his love for Roxane. Greenwald's lyrics sit perfectly on the meter of Elhai's eclectic and always tuneful score.
Greenwald also portrays the hero in director Peter Rothstein's ambitious production. The show seemed a bit unsure as it opened Saturday but found its rhythm shortly. Greenwald's interpretation of Cyrano has less of the robust bluster and winking confidence that some actors have used to define the man. He is more human, a vulnerable outsider who even in swagger shows a psyche damaged by the weight of carrying around that preposterous nose.