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Photo: Monique Carboni Review
“We write letters. We write letters. We put down in writing/what is happening in our minds.”

Oh right, wrong musical.

Still, it was these lyrics (from “The Great Comet of 1812”) that kept coming to mind while watching “Cyrano,” the new musical adaptation of Edmond de Rostand’s classic play, now being presented by The New Group at the Daryl Roth Theatre.

Despite the excellence of the show’s cast (starting with the incredible Peter Dinklage, best known for his multi-Emmy-winning turn as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's "Game of Thrones," in the title role), I sincerely wish adapter/director Erica Schmidt and her team had chosen to take a cue from that magnificent show and created something big and bold from de Rostand’s source material, instead of asking us to be content with this small-scale, decidedly downbeat two-hour version.

And it’s not just a question of “size matters.” What can be hard at times about truly embracing this “Cyrano” is that it has with no real sense of period in either its costumes or sets (although we’re still supposed in the 1640s, it’s impossible to tell) and the pleasant if far-too Americana-sounding score from the Grammy-winning band The National adds little to the show, even if some of the individual songs are lovely to listen to.

Still, the show’s tallest order has been fulfilled as Dinklage (Schmidt’s real-life husband) brings his now-signature brand of razor-sharp wit, melancholy, intelligence – and a decent baritone singing voice – to the piece. Indeed, our hearts break simultaneously with his as he talks about being “too ugly to love.” (The script’s conceit is that Cyrano is, as usual, normal-sized with a large nose, and not, like Dinklage, height-challenged, although he wears no fake proboscis).

In fact, his statement doesn’t ring completely true as Dinklage develops a thoroughly believable rapport with the multi-talented Jasmine Cephas Jones (the original Peggy Hamilton!), who brings her own level of street-smarts and soulfulness to his unrequited object of desire, Roxanne. (The only jarring note is that the script seems to imply the characters are the same age, although the performers are 20 years apart in age.) In fact, given the pair’s connection, it almost completely defies belief that Jones’ Roxanne and Cyrano aren’t a couple from the get-go.

Nonetheless, we understand why she falls instantly in love with Christian once we spy the very handsome, sweet-faced Blake Jenner (who has the cast’s most beautiful and sadly underused singing voice). And, of course, although she begins to doubt his supposed intellectual prowess, once those letters start flowing (written by Cyrano, but supposedly belonging to Christian), the die is cast.

The rest of the company is also beyond reproach: Ritchie Coster is properly haughty as the Duke De Guiche, who wants Roxanne as his own; Nehal Joshi is charming as the hapless baker Ragueneau; Grace McLean (an alumnus of “Comet”) is pitch-perfect as Roxanne’s chaperone Marie; Josh Dawson is stalwart and handsome as Cyrano’s best pal Le Bret; and Christopher Guss, Hillary Fischer, Erika Olson and Scott Strangland all make welcome contributions in multiple roles. In fact, this is the rare case where an entire ensemble’s interpretations of the script are completely “on the nose.”
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Ritchie Coster, Josh A. Dawson, Peter Dinklage, Hillary Fisher, Christopher Gurr, Blake Jenner, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Nehal Joshi, Grace McLean, Erika Olson, and Scott Stangland

Open/Close Dates
Opening 11/7/2019
Closing 12/22/2019

Theatre Info
Daryl Roth Theatre
20 Union Square
New York, NY 10003