Middle Park High School / Theatre: Cyrano: Timeless themes of love, honor, friendship
May 9, 2008
Young thespians from the Middle Park High School are pleased to present their spring play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” which opens next Thursday with Tanny and Kimberlee Nanda once again in the directors’ chairs.
The two-act show, set during the time of the Battle of Arras, is a non-musical and is the most famous piece written by Edmond Rostand (translated from French by Brian Hooker who wrote the screenplay for the award-winning film version starring Jose Ferrer). It tells the story of Cyrano, poet and political advocate with a lot of enemies and a famously pronounced nose. His secret love for Roxane is even more quieted when he is commissioned to woo the woman of his dreams for another, more attractive man.
“Cyrano has always been one of our favorite plays,” Kimberlee said. “It is a tale of romance involving one of history’s most tragic heroes. The play is rich with timeless themes of love, honor, and friendship.”
The cast consists of J.P. Lacouture (as Cyrano de Bergerac), Hannah Heckerson (Roxane), Tyler Orr (Christian), Shelby Mitchell (Le Bret), Zack Thorp (Comte de Guiche), Amelia Nicol (The duenna/Mother Superior), Eldon Oswald (Ragueneau/Vicomte de Valvert), Suzannah Mikol (Lise/Sister Marthe), Rory Mulligan (Montfleury), Jennifer Kerber (Bellerose), Alanah Rempel (Flower Girl/Sister Claire), and Elisa Glavin and Caitlyn Taylor as townspeople and cadets. Those students lending their talents as the stage crew are Conor Hardman, Ron Hartley and Montana Maurer.
Tanny said the youth actors underwent quite a bit of character discipline to put on the play. “I’ve always wanted to do this play and was a little leery, but we have the right combination of people and the right attitudes. Plus they, too, wanted to try something new.”
“We are always looking for shows that will challenge our actors in new ways,”
Kimberlee said. “Not only do they have to tackle classical language, but mannerisms of the day, and swordplay.”
Six months prior to announcing the show the Nandas asked fellow actor and friend Randel Davis to look into fencing.
“Randel is an accomplished martial artist who studies various styles including Wing Chun, Bague, and various Chinese knife and sword techniques,” Kimberlee said. He studied fencing extensively and worked with the cast to teach them fencing techniques. “We started with wooden dowels to get the footwork down and are using stage combat-ready replicas of sabers and French epees (modern version of the dueling sword) for the show.”
“They’re fantastic,” said Davis of the group. Davis, who was once in their shoes, is a Middle Park High School graduate as well and has been with the Nandas’ Grand Theatre Company in Winter Park for three years. “I’m proud and it’s been a lot of fun. I think everyone who comes to see the play will be thoroughly impressed.”
He can’t remember when there’s been so much stage combat in a play at the school, but he said, “It’s not just a show about combat though ” without the love story the combat is moot.”
This is the fourth play the Nandas will have directed for Middle Park High School, where the two were also once students themselves. The couple also created a French village for the production. There, audiences will find a quaint town square, a couple bakery shops, and possibly a working fountain the Nandas are attempting to pull off.
The play will be the final high school performance for Middle Park High School seniors Lacouture, Kerber, and Nicol who will graduate this month. Nicol was awarded a $1,000 theatre scholarship from Doane College and will be perusing theatre there.
Those underclassmen who still have a few years to go are looking forward to updated lighting and a better sound system in the auditorium by the next school year (thanks to the bond issue that passed). They are also pleased to announce the return of a drama class offering to the curriculum in the 2008-09 school year, to be taught by art teacher Tara Smith.
In the meantime, residents and guests are invited out to take in an evening of live theatre for the final student play of the school year.
“It’s a classic. This show has something for everyone,” Tanny said of the production, which starts right off with a duel but is primarily a love story. “There are so many themes.”