Cyrano: The nose knows

Emily Gunyou Halaas and J.C. Cutler.

Emily Gunyou Halaas and J.C. Cutler.

Edmond Rostand's comic and tragic tale of inner versus outer beauty has endured for centuries on the back of its intriguing, funny, and flawed main character. J.C. Cutler inhabits all of those qualities in Park Square Theatre's engaging production.

Teamed up with a terrific cast, gorgeous costumes from Matthew J. LeFebvre, and typically energetic direction from Joe Chvala, Cutler lets us see what makes Cyrano truly tick.

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[jump] At the heart of the story is the relationship among three characters: Cyrano, deemed ugly because of his nose; young Christian, a handsome if a bit dim and shy young man; and the heart of both of their desires, Roxane.

Still, it takes a bit to get to this point. The journey is fun, as Chvala builds plenty of energy as Cyrano first dispatches (while composing a sonnet on the spot) a cad who insulted him about his nose and then takes out 100 thugs sent to dispatch him.

The comic side hits its heights as Cyrano provides the text to Christian's good looks to get into Roxane's good graces. The second half still has its comic moments, but the story takes us to battle, and then 15 years later, as the surviving characters still are haunted by the past.

Cutler can play the comic side with good grace, but it is the depths he brings out that makes this such a revelatory performance. The actor has always had a knack with making the familiar fresh (see his Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, for example) and that comes out here.

The other two sides of the triangle do well, with Emily Gunyou Halaas finding the charm and heartbreak of Roxane. Christian is very much a noble idiot, and Sam Bardwell doesn't shy away from those parts of the character.

The other seven actors are busy from beginning to end, taking on all of the rest of the characters in the story, including the fellow soldiers, the denizens of the theater, and the other folks we meet along the way. They do solid work throughout, from Craig Johnson's playful interpretation of Roxane's nurse, Desiree, to Alan Sorenson's conniving rival De Guiche.


Through April 6
Park Square Theatre

20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul

$35 and $55
For tickets and more information, call 651.291.7005 or visit online