After a long and harried day Friday, I managed to make it to the Rep in time to catch its season opener in the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater, "Cyrano de Bergerac." I was not quite sure what to expect, but from the very beginning it was clear that this is a very theatrical play.
The actors flounced about in their elaborate costumes reminding me much of my previous weekend's visit to the Renaissance Faire. The characters seemed clever and humorous from the start, with a pastry chef betting bakery on the appearance of the famed Cyrano de Bergerac. Indeed, he kept his five eclairs, as Cyrano did make a well-calculated entrance to the scene. Much sword slashing and poetry ensued.
Cyrano de Bergerac is an ugly man, but he strives to make himself "in all ways admirable." He is intelligent, witty, romantic and brave. But what woman could love such a face? Thus, the story unfolds.
I questioned at one point if, in spite of all this show, Cyrano were not really a coward. My cohorts convinced me that it was not cowardice but chivalry that was in play in the scene of question. The mere fact that his motives were debatable shows perhaps how far we have come from those days.
The play, written by the French poet Edmond Rostand, originally opened in 1897 and was an instant success. It has been popular ever since. That is a reasonably good track record, so it might be a good one to put on your "to see" list.
I, myself, did enjoy the play. What I liked most was the poetry, and the beauty of the language. I enjoyed the beautiful costumes, and all the actors on the stage -- the cast was larger than I expected (and Lee Ernst did fine job in the title role). And I suppose, most importantly, I liked to grow to know Cyrano, a noble man -- and the fact that audiences continue to be impressed by integrity.
Jessica Laub was born in Milwaukee in the spring of 1970, thereafter spending her childhood days enjoying the summers on the shores of Lake Michigan and winters at the toboggan chute in Brown Deer Park.
Alas, she moved away to broaden her horizons, and studied out East for a few years at Syracuse University. After a semester "abroad" at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, she graduated with a B.A. in English and advertising.
After college, she worked at Glacier National Park, a ski hill in Steamboat, Col. and organic farms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California.
In 1995, Laub moved to Nicaragua where she worked on community gardens, reforestation and environmental education as a Peace Corps volunteer. While there, she learned to speak Spanish, pay attention to world politics and how to make tortillas.
Laub then returned to Milwaukee to join the ranks of the non-profit sector. Currently, she works at the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) and keeps busy by painting, throwing pots, reading, trying to understand her two-year old son, seeing performances and howling at the moon.