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A nose for love

BY VICTORIA VAUGHN | JUNE 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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Almost everyone is captivated by a good love story — especially when it has a dash of complexity and a whole lot of action.

Riverside Theater, 213 N. Gilbert St., and artistic director Jody Hovland are giving Iowa City just that.

Cyrano, which is a musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, a play written by Edmond Rostand, tells the story of a novelist and playwright who fancies getting into swordfights and love triangles. The musical features a small yet mighty cast of five characters.

Hovland said it was thrilling to find a small-cast version of the show.

“An adaptation is tailored for a versatile acting ensemble and imaginative theatrical staging — making it a great fit for what we do on Gilbert Street,” she said.

Set designer Kevin Dudley produced a “mash-up” of beautiful and rustic pieces — a design that plays on the conflicting theme of inner beauty and outward appearance. Tyler Wilson, Cyrano’s costume designer, went with 17th-century costumes that appear richer in pattern and texture when caught in the light. The multilayer show then comes together with sound and lighting courtesy of Drew Beilinski and David Thayer.  

However, excellent theatrical staging isn’t the only thing Cyrano requires.

“Cyrano demands actors who are inventive and playful, handle language beautifully, and have very open hearts,” Hovland said.

The show features talent from around the United States — Arkansas, New York, Chicago, and Iowa City. Steven Marzolf (Cyrano), and Kelly Gibson (Roxane) bring extensive acting experience and education. Marzolf has been a professional actor for 12 years and worked on more classical shows than he can count. Gibson, hailing from New York, holds a M.F.A and B.F.A, and has received classical training and experience in places such as New York, London, and Kansas.

“That’s how we grow,” said Gibson about working with actors with different levels of experience. “Beyond that, I have my human experience, my imagination, and my heart …”

In addition to well-rounded actors, Cyrano features a unique element that audiences may not see in other productions — a score produced by one of the actors.

Felipe Carrasco, recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in theater, had the opportunity to add more than just his acting ability to Cyrano.

After writing a fresh score for Almost, Maine as an intern, Carrasco caught Hovland’s attention. She was interested to see what he could bring to Cyrano.

Carrasco said audiences could expect to hear this score during transitional parts of the show.

It should come as no surprise then that Cyrano provides the audience with a unique experience that manages to speak to the human experience. It touches such items as unexpected love, taking life not too seriously, and understanding that outer appearance is not always a reflection of inner beauty.

“In an age besotted with makeovers, Cyrano is a reminder that true love is more than skin-deep,” Hovland said.

For more information, see Riverside Theater’s website. Tickets run $18 to $30.


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