Sentimental, Acerbic 'Cyrano de Bergerac'

Any production of "Cyrano de Bergerac" rises and falls with the actor playing the title role. A Noise Within in Glendale has a meteoric commodity in Geoff Elliott as the swashbuckling French swordsman whose protuberant proboscis conceals the simmering soul of a poet.

A fervid French romance from the late 1890s, "Cyrano" could degenerate into a rattling potboiler given the wrong handling. Fortunately, the comically inventive Elliott manages to strike just the right balance between sentimentalism and acerbity in Edmond Rostand's somewhat shopworn classic.

Art Manke directs with verve and efficiency, deftly maneuvering two-dozen-plus actors around the small playing area. However, the supernumeraries in the famed opening theater sequence need to strike a more natural tone.

As De Guiche, the importunate count who craves Roxane, Robert Pescovitz is effectively underplayed, in striking contrast to Brian McGovern's passionate Christian. Unfortunately, Emily Heebner's Roxane is a template ingenue who only occasionally goes against type.

Kenneth R. Merckx Jr.'s athletic fight sequences are high points. Angela Balogh Calin's set, Paula J. Dinkel's lighting and Roxanne Femling's costumes are splendid, but hair designer Guy Beck needs to rethink Christian's wig, which seems poised to leap off McGovern's head and perform a soliloquy of its own.

* "Cyrano de Bergerac," A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Runs in repertory: Today-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m.; Oct. 18-19, 27-28, Nov. 8-9, 17, 22, Dec. 2 and 6, 8 p.m.; Oct. 22, Nov. 26, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.; Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and 10, 2 p.m. Ends Dec. 10. $10-$28. (818) 546-1924. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

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