His nose knows, and so do New York’s toughest critics. Assessing Kevin Kline’s latest foray into the treacherous waters of Broadway, this time as Edmond Rostand’s proboscisly challenged, 17th-century warrior-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, The New Yorker cheered “Kevin Kline is sensational.” A “deeply satisfying pleasure” echoed Newsday, while The New York Times spoke for all: “The show goes down so easily, you’re misty-eyed before you know it.”
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The sold-out engagement, also starring Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata, closed last January, but captured in HDTV by Thirteen/WNET New York’s GREAT PERFORMANCES for PBS. The results can be savored Wednesday, January 7 at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings).
“I’ve wanted to play this part ever since I saw it in high school,” Kline says. “He’s living a life as large as life gets, if not larger. I think it’s very romantic.”
David Leveaux’s stylish production, with sumptuous costumes and sets by Gregory Gale and Tom Pye respectively, remains true to Rostand’s 1897 heartbreaker of a play, bursting with swashbuckling gascons and duplicitous noblemen, fops and ruffians. Its tale of the eponymous philosopher-swordsman (Kline), who pines for his beautiful cousin Roxane (Garner), yet is too ashamed of his large nose to tell her, is an actor’s dream role. He pens poetry and love letters to her in the name of the man she loves, the tongue-tied Christian de Neuvillette (Sunjata). Many years later the truth is revealed – in a sure-fire, four-hankie finale.
The late Anthony Burgess translated and adapted the 2007 production, which was recorded on stage in performance at the Richard Rodgers Theater, January 3 and 4, 2008.
An Ellen M. Krass Production with Thirteen/WNET New York, Cyrano de Bergerac is produced by Ellen M. Krass, with Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane and David Horn as executive producers. Matthew Diamond directs for television, with Gary Bradley as editor.
Oscar- and Tony Award-winner Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, The Pirates of Penzance, On the 20th Century) made his GREAT PERFORMANCES debut in another sword-wielding classical role, Hamlet (1990). He starred in and directed (with Kirk Browning) the telecast
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.