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Wednesday, January 7 at 8 p.m. Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac

(Rochester, NY) His nose knows, and so do New York’s toughest critics. Assessing Kevin Kline’s latest foray into the treacherous waters of Broadway, this time as Edmond Rostand’s proboscisly challenged 17th-century warrior-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, The New Yorker cheered, “Kevin Kline is sensational.” A “deeply satisfying pleasure,” echoed Newsday, while The New York Times spoke for all: “The show goes down so easily, you’re misty-eyed before you know it.” Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac airs Wednesday, January 7 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1).

The sold-out engagement, also starring Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata, closed last January, but Great Performances captured the performance for PBS in high definition.

David Leveaux’s stylish production, with sumptuous costumes and sets by Gregory Gale and Tom Pye respectively, remains true to Rostand’s 1897 heartbreaker of a play, bursting with swash-buckling gascons and duplicitous noblemen, fops and ruffians. Its tale of the eponymous philosopher-swordsman (Kline), who pines for his beautiful cousin Roxane (Garner), yet is too ashamed of his large nose to tell her, is an actor’s dream role. Cyrano pens poetry and love letters to her in the name of the man she loves, the tongue-tied Christian de Neuvillette (Sunjata). Many years later the truth is revealed — in a sure-fire, four-hankie finale.

The late Anthony Burgess translated and adapted the 2007 production, which was recorded on stage in performance at the Richard Rodgers Theater, January 3 and 4, 2008. Oscar- and Tony Award-winner Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, The Pirates of Penzance, On the 20th Century) made his Great Performances debut in another sword-wielding classical role, Hamlet (1990). He starred in and, with Kirk Browning, directed the telecast.

For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/gperf.

Pictured: (l-r) Kevin Kline, Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata star as Cyrano, Roxane and Christian.
Photo Credit: Joe Sinnott-WNET New York

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