Courageous gender swap of roles makes for unique and artful “Cyrano” rendered by Woodbridge Senior High School

Jan Dylewski

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Emma Paquette, a student at McLean High School , reviews “Cyrano” performed by Woodbridge Senior High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program ..

A heaping of unrequited love, a handful of bloodshed and warfare, and a dash of irrefutable panache, and what do you get? A recipe for a story as delicious one of Ragueneau’s finest cakes! It is the tragic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac, a classic case of when the beauty on the inside cannot overcome the hideousness on the outside, leading to torment, tragedy, and a fantastic show. Cyrano was presented with zealous energy by Woodbridge Senior High School.

Cyrano was originally written in French by Edmond Rostand in 1897. In the play, the strong, clever, and kind Cyrano de Bergerac falls in love with his lovely and intelligent cousin, Roxane. However, Cyrano is also cursed with ugliness, thanks to the gigantic nose that resides upon his face, and therefore does not believe that anyone could love him back. Due to this inner doubt, he is persuaded to woo Roxane on the behalf of the handsome Christian de Neuvillette, despite the inner turmoil this task brings him. The English translation performed by Woodbridge was written by Barry Kornhauser in 2005. Woodbridge’s production was also unique due to their creative idea to gender-swap the entirety of the roles, thus making Cyrano a woman and Roxane, now Roger, a man. The cast as a whole must be commended for their courageous undertaking of such a formidable challenge. They must also be congratulated for their impressive understanding of the language, making the rhyming verse sound natural and conversational.

The spotlight of the show was stolen by Cyrano, played with brilliant intensity by Kaitlyn Rhyne. In contrast to some cast members, Rhyne took full advantage of the humor in the script, deftly drawing laughs with her staggering wit and equally masterful physical comedy. She genuinely displayed a variety of emotions, giving genuine depths to her character. She displayed excellent chemistry with the entirety of the cast, particularly her leading man, Roger (Bryson Jenkins). Jenkins impressively managed to match Rhyne’s complete magnetism during their scenes together with his own remarkable enthusiasm.

The cast was also studded with some believable supporting talent. Christiane de Neuvillette (Hannah Taylor) provided a refreshing foil to the jesting Cyrano. She dedicated herself to the serious and shy cadet with admirable conviction. The baker, Ragueneau (Rachel Price) was utterly hilarious, her drunken staggering and melodramatic moaning bringing skillful humor to her already ridiculous role. Her daring choices coincided well with the character’s switched gender casting. Bellerose (Ashli Yerbi) provided a perfect opening, capturing the stage with her explosive personality and formidable vigor.

Cyrano’s doomed not-quite love affair is one that resonates throughout the ages. Everyone experiences insecurity, whether for their looks or some other part of themselves. The message sent, that a good soul can sometimes be obscured by an unpleasant visage, is an important one to remember throughout all times and cultures. Woodbridge Senior High School’s production of the stirringly emotional Cyrano was truly a thoughtful and poignant presentation.

 
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