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Cyrano, Circle Theatre. This Forest Park company has developed something of a knack for staging big-budget musicals on a shoestring: last winter it worked its magic with Grand Hotel, successfully transforming that large-scale epic into a relatively modest and intimate affair. Circle is usually at its best when interpreting time-tested, proven pieces of theater. But with new or infrequently produced works, it often concentrates too much on masking the script's inherent weaknesses. Such is the case with Cyrano, a musical based on Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac that's so terrifically awful no amount of style or inspiration can make up for its lack of substance. Adapter Anthony Burgess fails to convey any of Rostand's poetry--which might be forgivable if Michael Lewis's musical numbers weren't so utterly unremarkable.

Robert A. Knuth's economical set creates a much-needed illusion of depth in Circle's intimate space, but director Kevin Bellie undermines Knuth's efforts with a cluttered staging: sometimes the space is packed tighter than a sardine can, with up to 14 actors onstage at once. Todd Cornils is miscast in the title role; despite a convincing prosthetic proboscis, he fails to capture Cyrano's boisterous nature and epicurean gusto. Brocki Luton's tender Roxanne and John Simmons's pastry chef Ragueneau are endearing enough, but by the time this bloated musical grinds to a halt, the unenthusiastic players look more relieved than anything else. --Nick Green

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