The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is known for tossing aside staid retellings of the Bard’s work and instead bringing an energetic and fresh approach to the work of Shakespeare and other great playwrights. And while its most recent production of “Cyrano de Bergerac” doesn’t break new ground or stand old conventions on their head, what it does do is thoroughly entertain with a genuinely funny show that will eventually produce a tear or two.
The show is a tight production with acting worthy of one of the country’s best examples of summer stock theater as it tells the tale of Cyrano de Bergerac, a French man in the 1640s gifted in wit, handy with a sword and cursed with an enormous nose. He uses his silver tongue and romantic verses to help the handsome but tongue-tied Christian woe the lovely Roxanne, the true love of Cyrano’s life that he is convinced he can never win because of his unfortunate visage.
This production is at its best is when it gives its Cyrano, played deftly by Scott Coopwood, free rein over the stage. Coopwood imbues a certain level of condescension to the role when addressing those whose self-inflated importance grate the genuine man. Yet that grating personality vanishes when he’s among his fellow soldiers, his friends or in the face of his secret love, Roxanne. In the scenes when he is not taking down nobles a peg or fighting off insults to his nose, Coopwood makes Cyrano a hero worthy of the audience’s affection.
Brynn Tucker, who plays Roxanne, is a beautiful counterpart to Coopwood. Her Roxanne is both an exuberant girl in love with Christian’s looks (and the words supplied by Cyrano) and a cunning mind that easily plays the stubborn and pompous men in her orbit. Tucker brings a gravitas to Roxanne and makes sure the love interest is more than just window dressing for the men to fight over.
One of the best features of this version of the classic play is Marco Robinson as Christian. He easily slides between comedic relief, especially in the scene where he tries on his own to profess his love for Roxanne without the help of Cyrano (I REALLY love you is all he can muster), and a man with a noble spirit who is lovable in his own right.
While those three are the center of the show, the cast is filled out with some outstanding performances that help push this production into a truly entertaining show. Matthew Schneck as Cyrano’s best friend Le Bret and Michael Bouchard as the generous baker Ragueneau are two standouts in a show full of noteworthy performances.
The production benefits from being staged in the outdoor Mary Rippon Theatre and director Christopher DuVal has used every square inch of the space to make it a truly immersive experience. Even a somewhat clumsily choreographed sword fighting scene in the opening act is overshadowed by what follows, including the opening scenes of the second act when Cyrano and his fellow troops are fighting off an attack by their Spanish foes.
4.5 out of 5 stars
“Cyrano de Bergerac” by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre at the CU Boulder Campus, 277 University Ave. Boulder
Playing now. Performances at 8 p.m. July 20-21, July 28, Aug. 11. 7 p.m. Aug. 1-2, Aug. 9
For more information and tickets, visit upresents.org/event/1512/shakespeare/cyrano-de-bergerac/ or call 303-492-8008.