Tag Archives: Maleni Chaitoo

Staged Reading of ‘Cyrano’ Soars at New York Theatre Workshop

'Cyrano' at New York Theatre Workshop

‘Cyrano’ at New York Theatre Workshop

The Fountain Theatre and Deaf West Theatre brought their lyrical and romantic  deaf/hearing updated-version of Cyrano to New York last Monday, April 29, for a special staged reading at the acclaimed New York Theatre Workshop. The staged reading was performed for a full house of NY theater producers and invited VIP’s for the purpose of solidifying interest in a possible New York production.

Four original cast members were flown in from Los Angeles: Troy Kotsur, Paul Raci, Victor Warren and Al Bernstein.  The rest of the ensemble was cast with local New York actors Matt Biagini, Robert De MayoSamira Wiley, John McGinty, Puy Navarro, James W. Guido, Alexandria Wailes, Richard Dent, and original cast member Maleni Chaitoo who happens to now live in NY.

The company rehearsed with director Simon Levy for only three days. Our thanks to our friends at Primary Stages for providing their rehearsal studios to the Cyrano company. Also in attendance at rehearsals were playwright Stephen Sachs, Deaf West Artistic Director David Kurs, Fountain Producing Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, DWT Founder Ed Waterstreet and his wife, actress Linda Bove.

The highly regarded New York Theatre Workshop is the Tony-winning company dedicated to developing new plays and musicals.  Over their 30-year history, they have launched many acclaimed productions and have transferred several to Broadway, including Rent, Dirty Blonde, Homebody/Kabul, Peter and the Starcatcher, Once, and more. The Cyrano staged reading was held Monday in the NYTW upstairs rehearsal hall. An invited list of producers and VIP guests attended, including representatives from New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, 59E59 Theatres, Broadway director Jeff Calhoun, and more. The actors performed Cyrano entirely memorized and off-book and cleverly incorporated the use of captioning and video design on a large TV flat screen monitor.

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to our Cyrano donors who contributed to our fundraising campaign and made this very important New York opportunity possible: Phillip Baron, Cal Bartlett, JB Blanc, Eve Brenner, Carlease Burke, Johnny Clark, Kyle Colerider-Krugh, Cathy Colloff, Debra Conklin, James Conley, Kimberly Cyzner Family, Lorraine Danza, Timothy Davis-Reed, Fred Dean, Donna Duarte, Susan Duncan, Michael Edwin, Mark Freund, Amy Frost, Heidi Girardoni, Jane Gordon, Gaby Gross, William Dennis Hurley, Trice Koopman, Ken LaZebnik, Robert Leventer, Dennis Levitt, Ruth Linnick, Betsy Malloy, Caitlin Marcus, Donne McRae, Susan Merson, Mills, Michelle Montooth, Joel Moreno, Russell Nore, Jenny O’Hara, Susan Oka, Z. Oppenheim, Patricia Parker, Cynthia Paskos, Patty Paul, Terry Paule, Sharon Perlmutter, Ralph Pezoldt, Allison Pickering, Lawrence Poindexter, Priscilla Pointer, Bill Pugin and The Sign Language Company, Terri Roberts, Mark Routhier, Rita Schneir, Sandy Schuckett, Susanne Spira Survivors Trust, Suanne Spoke, Marjorie Throne, Eileen T’Kaye, Zoltan & Dorcas Tokes, Andrede Toledo, Tate Tullier, Jessica Turner, Nick Ullett, Heidi Girardoni, Carol Watson, Marianne Weil, William Wilk. We could not have done it without you!

What happens now? We’ll see what the future holds for our unique, thrilling and moving ASL/spoken English version of Cyrano. In the meantime, enjoy these snapshots of the rehearsal process and the staged reading!

‘Cyrano’ in New York 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Fountain Theatre Sweeps Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards

Fountain Theatre wins Best Season Award.

Fountain Theatre wins Best Season Award.

On Monday night, the Fountain Theatre won 7 LA Drama Critics Circle Awards:

  • Best Season 2012 – El NogalarCyranoThe Blue IrisIn the Red and Brown Water
  • Best Production – Cyrano
  • Best Director – Simon Levy, Cyrano
  • Best Director – Shirley Jo Finney, In the Red and Brown Water
  • Best Lead Performance – Troy Kotsur, Cyrano
  • Best Ensemble – In the Red and Brown Water
  • Best Writing (Adaptation) – Stephen Sachs, Cyrano

Fountain Theatre Sweeps with 7 Awards on the Gala Night

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photo Slideshow: ‘Cyrano’ Closing party

Snapshots from our party celebrating the magical sold-out run of the world premiere of Cyrano after the final performance on Sunday, July 29th.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

‘Cyrano” Cast Members Are “Sexy” in ASL Music Video

Actors Chip Bent and Maleni Chaitoo, two cast members from our smash hit production of Cyrano, got together on their own time and created this ASL Music Video, “Sexy and I Know It”.  Check it out!

Celebrity Weekend at ‘Cyrano’

This past weekend brought film/TV actors Lea Thompson, Tara Samuel, and film director Joe Sargent to the Fountain Theatre to enjoy the world premiere production of Cyrano, now extended to July 8th.

Lea Thompson can be currently seen on the ABC Family TV series Switched at Birth. She starred in her own TV series Caroline in the City and starred opposite Michael J. Fox in the Back to the Future movies.

Tara Samuel co-starred on the TV series Sue Thomas: FB Eye. Joe Sargent is an Emmy-winning TV and film director, including the deaf-themed TV movies Sweet Nothing in my Ear and Love is Never Silent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cyrano   Now to July 8th   (323) 663-1525    More Info

“Cyrano” Video: What Really Goes On in the Women’s Dressing Room?


Cyrano Extended to July 8th (323) 663-1525  More Info

Slideshow Photos: “Cyrano” Q&A Talk Back with Audience

On May 10, the cast and company of Cyrano enjoyed a Q&A Talk Back with the audience immediately following the performance. Joining the cast was director Simon Levy, playwright Stephen Sachs , and ASL Masters Tyrone Giordano and Shoshannah Stern. The cast answered questions from the audience on a wide range topics, including a discussion of the themes of the play, the rehearsal process, the ASL translation of the script, and the joy of performing the play as an actor.

A wonderful time was had by all, and the excited conversations continued in the theatre long after the official Q&A was over.  Enjoy the photos!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cyrano  Now to July 8th! (323) 663-1525  More Info   Buy Tickets

Smash Hit “Cyrano” Extends to July 8th!

Rave Reviews! Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times!

Troy Kotsur and Erinn Anova

The Fountain Theatre and Deaf West Theatre have announced a four-week extension of Cyrano, a signed/spoken adaptation of “Cyrano de Bergerac” that has been re-set in modern-day Los Angeles. The Fountain/Deaf West co-production will continue Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through July 8.

Written by Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs (Bakersfield Mist) and directed by Simon Levy, Cyrano stars Deaf West actor Troy Kostsur in the title role as a brilliant deaf poet hopelessly in love with Roxy, a beautiful hearing woman. But Roxy doesn’t understand sign language and instead loves Chris, his hearing brother. Can Cyrano express his love to Roxy with his hands? Or must he teach Chris to woo her, to “speak his words” for him? American Sign Language (ASL) becomes the language of love in this new spin on a classic love story.

Troy Kotsur and Paul Raci

Over a dozen reviewers have weighed in, earning Cyrano a score of “100% Sweet” on Bitter Lemons, the website that aggregates reviews of Los Angeles theater. “CRITIC’S CHOICE… inspired and inspiring! —Los Angeles Times; “CRITIC’S PICK…clever and deeply moving… bridges the gap between [deaf and hearing] worlds with poignancy and a huge dose of humor.” — Back Stage; “Skillful and impressive… terrific performances.” —LAist; “5 STARS… a poignant, inventive, riotously funny and marvelously satisfying masterpiece!”—Santa Monica Daily Press; “Nothing short of amazing… a dazzling accomplishment.” —Talkin’ Broadway; “A gem… fascinating on so many levels.” —Buzzine; “Superlative… an evening not to be missed.” —StageHappenings; “GO! [a] glorious swirl of words floating around the stage.” —LA Weekly; “An extraordinary production of a terrific play” —Latin Heat; “A sheer and exceptional pleasure.” —LifeInLA.

Cyrano continues through July 8 at The Fountain Theatre. For reservations and information, call 323 663-1525 or click here.

photos by Ed Kreiger

“Cyrano”: CRITIC’S CHOICE in Los Angeles Times!

Review: A refreshing take on ‘Cyrano’ at Fountain Theatre

Troy Kotsur and Erinn Anova (photo by Ed Krieger)

by Philip Brandes

Texting and email may have replaced quill and ink in “Cyrano” — Stephen Sachs’ contemporary re-envisioning of Edmond Rostand‘s classic drama — but the problematic nature of communication remains a constant. If anything, the theme gains new dimension and impact through the collision of hearing, deaf and online cultures in this inspired and inspiring adaptation’s debut co-production from the Fountain Theatre and Deaf West Theatre companies.

Performed simultaneously in spoken dialogue and American Sign Language by a mixed ensemble of hearing and deaf actors, Sachs’ moving adaptation transposes Rostand’s archetypal heroic outsider into a gifted coffeehouse poet whose inferiority complex is rooted in his deafness rather than his perfectly normal nose. Troy Kotsur excels as this modern Cyrano, who fears that talking with his hands poses an unbridgeable gulf between himself and Roxy (Erinn Anova) the hearing-only poetry fan he worships from afar. Learning that his beloved is in turn infatuated with his rock musician brother, Chris (Paul Raci), who has always been his “voice” in the hearing world, Cyrano returns the favor by composing romantic texts and emails to Roxy on Chris’ behalf (smartly rendered in videography by Jeffrey Elias Teeter).

Sachs’ adaptation skillfully maps Rostand’s principals to their updated versions. Torn between pride and loneliness, Kotsur’s Cyrano resists identifying with either the hearing or deaf communities — or the modern world, for that matter — and evokes the heartbreaking weight of the realization that self-sacrificing vicarious passion is not all it’s cracked up to be. Raci is by turns hilarious and poignant as clueless loser Chris, and Anova invests Roxy with the sensitivity and sense of isolation she unknowingly shares with Cyrano.

The few arguable limitations here lie in adhering a bit too faithfully to some creakier aspects of Rostand’s original (particularly the opening brawling sequence), but the performances quickly catch fire in Simon Levy’s well-paced and precisely focused staging. Besides offering a refreshing take on a classic, the signed/spoken presentation offers hearing folks the opportunity to appreciate sign language’s unique emotional expressiveness.

Cyrano Now – June 10 (323) 663-1525  More Info  Buy Tickets

Backstage Snapshots and Video at “Cyrano”

Ipek Mehlum

Maleni Chaitoo

Ipek Mehlum, Maleni Chaitoo, Martica de Cardenas, Erinn Anova

Victor Warren

Backstage Video by Daniel Durant on Opening Night

Cyrano      Now – June 10  (323) 663-1525   More Info   Get Tickets