The second collaboration between the Oklahoma City Community College and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha comes to the Bruce Owen Theater beginning November 17-19.
Cyrano de Bergerac is a romantic play that tells the story of the young man, Cyrano, who is regarded as a true renaissance man. Cyrano is a poet, an actor, and a fierce fighter who is only hindered by his large and ugly nose. He falls in love with his distant cousin Roxane, but does not think he is worthy of her love.
In an unusual move, OCCC Theatre major Miranda LoPresti was cast as Cyrano — a decision that wasn’t lost on LoPresti.
During the audition process, she expected a man to be cast for the role. LoPresti said she was pleasantly surprised when she found out she got the lead.
“It’s a traditionally male part, and so when i found out i got cast a said ‘Well, I guess I did something right’,” LoPresti said.
Cyrano is the main character as the title would imply. He’s a poet, with much parallels to Don Quixote, who has this idea of honor and duty, and how it ought to be. He sticks to that moral code as rigid as he can in a world where other people are willing to compromise to get their way, she said.
Dewayne Delaney a USAO theatre major, was chosen as Christian, Cyrano’s friend. Delany said he had to approach the part with a different mentality.
“Christian is a new guard in the troupe that Cyrano is in. He falls in love with Roxane, and she falls in love with him sort of. She turns out to be very big on words and intelligence. Christian is only street smart, he’s not the best with words,” he said.
Delaney was part of a USAO Georg Kaiser play, which is considered to be German Expressionist. Because Cyrano is considered a romantic piece, Delaney said the more grand gestures and higher emotions proved to be challenging.
“He agrees to Cyrano’s help in writing letters to Roxane for him to still be with the one he loves. He thinks that will work, until it doesn’t,” he said.
Having three days of shows already done, Delaney said he felt good for the upcoming shows at OCCC.
“I feel more prepared. The opening day jitters are gone and away. It’s a new stage so new problems will arise, but we’ve gone through one opening night already so I think everyone is in a more relaxed state. We’re excited and ready to go,” Delaney said.
Director and USAO Theatre professor Katie Davis said she has puts more focus on process than product. She makes it a priority to make sure the students learn through class, rehearsal, and production.
“I was very pleased to have a show that was suitable to put in front of an audience, but what was more exciting for me was the opportunity to watch the show grow,” she said.
The OCCC shows will be the second run for the Cyrano production, already having performed three shows at the USAO theater the previous week.
“We had pretty small audiences in Chickasha, so it’ll be exciting, hopefully at the Bruce Owen Theater, to have a little more in the crowd and see how the actors respond with that,” Davis said.
Moving the whole cast and stage sets from theater to theater meant everyone had to adapt to the new environment. Davis said this is the first time her department has ever moved a full production from one stage to another.
“This isn’t something we’ve ever done before. Being able to do lighting and scenery even in our home theater is a challenge, so to have a set that we could take apart and move to another location, then refocusing lights and write a whole new set of light queues in a different space has been really challenging,” she said.
USAO Theatre student and production flyman Serik Taylor said the transition and working with the space has had its ups and downs. “I make sure that certain aspects of the scene can go in and out, up or down. At USAO I’m on the ground and don’t have much room to breathe, but here I get a birdseye view from the walkway above the stage,” he said.
Taylor said the dismantling and transportation of the set was a struggle, but worth it. “I spent eight hours helping rebuild the set for the OCCC stage, it was rough. In the end it all came together pretty well.”
Even with these hurdles, Davis had confidence that her cast and crew was in a good place for their next three shows. “That’s the beauty of academic theatre, I want the audience to feel it is worth their time. The nice thing is that we have a wonderful story to tell,” she said.
“I had an audience member last week comment that they really needed this play, after election week stress and sort of the social fallout, to be taken away, to have an escape into this story and to have the example of Cyrano who decides that by being the best person he can be, he can have a lot of influence over the world and the people around him. It’s really inspirational,” she said.
Photos by Victor A. Pozadas/Pioneer