by Jessica Broutt
I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to see a show before, but I actually was anxious to see my first show at The Fountain Theatre. More than anything I wanted to love Cyrano. I wanted to tell people that the theatre I was interning at had this amazing show and that everyone just had to see it. And after watching last night’s performance, I can confidently do exactly that.
Though I had done a little research on the show itself, I really was not sure what to expect. And while I had peeked into the theatre before, being there just before a show was a completely different experience. People were speaking English and signing in American Sign Language, and laughing, excited to be there. The theatre filled up fast, and everyone seemed eager for the show to start.
When it did, I was delighted by how intimate it felt. While this should have been no surprise to me, since it is an 80-seat theatre, there was something about the way the stage was set and my proximity to it that made me feel like I was really a part of it all.
As the play started, I immediately wondered how I would feel about seeing a signed/spoken adaptation. Would it be distracting? Make the show difficult to understand? Well, I shouldn’t have worried. The second Troy Kotsur, the actor playing Cyrano, came on stage everything else seemed to melt away. I soon became engrossed in the story of Cyrano, a deaf man falling in love with a hearing woman. The unorthodox love story trumped everything else. The way this show was put together just worked so well. Sometimes Troy would be signing, and Paul Raci, who played his brother Chris, would be interpreting. Other times, both characters on stage where signing and there were two interpreters on the sidelines translating. I thought this would be distracting, but it wasn’t. Their voices came out as the voices of Chris and Cyrano to the point where I almost forgot they were there. It all just seemed to fit.
More than that, it seemed like everyone who saw the play was enjoying it immensely but in different ways. For instance, sometimes the actress playing Roxy (Erinn Anova) would laugh, this really charming laugh, and the hearing audience laughed too. Other times the actor playing Cyrano would sign something which the hearing audience might miss, but really struck a chord with the deaf viewers. And then there were those moments in the play, (which I won’t give away for those yet to see it), that are so completely universal, we all laughed together. It was an unforgettable experience.
I encourage anyone who has yet to see Cyrano to attend as soon as possible. It is a very rare and wonderful experience to see a play with such a well-written story be carried out with both a remarkable cast and well-placed technology weaved throughout. Not only does it fit into our modern world perfectly, acknowledging the growing role of social media, but it gives a voice to a world most viewers don’t typically see, a world they should come experience immediately!
Jessica Broutt is our summer intern at the Fountain Theatre from UC San Diego.