Almost everyone knows the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. Until recently, Bronson Byerley wasn’t one of them. He learned the story just a couple of weeks back through a synopsis.
But starting Wednesday, Byerley will be playing Cyrano, or a version of him, in a production of a play called “Cyrano de BurgerShack” at Players Centre for Performing Arts in Sarasota.
He can be forgiven for not knowing much about the source material. Byerley, like all his cast mates in the Players production, is still a teenager. This will be his first time on a community theater stage.
Director Theresa O’Connell said she thinks most people know the story, even if they believe that they don’t know it.
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“Even if you don’t know the original play, you know the story,” she said. “It’s been used over and over in sitcoms and movies.”
The story revolves around a noble but deformed man named Cyrano who’s secretly in love with his friend Roxanne. But because of his appearance, he never lets his feelings be known. When Roxanne falls for a handsome newcomer named Christian, Cyrano wants her to be happy, so he helps Christian court her. It works — up to a point.
“It takes her a while to realize that Christian isn’t the brightest person around,” O’Connell said.
“Cyrano de BurgerShack,” by Jeremy Desmon, is an updating of the story, not a parody. It sets the story in a present-day burger joint where high school kids hang out after school.
It’s a jukebox musical, with hit songs from the ’80s and ’90s, up to recent hits. They’re songs by the Go-Gos, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Carly Rae Jepsen and others.
A lot of the songs are from before Byerley’s time. He was only familiar with about half the songs before he started rehearsals, he said. But he’s become as much of a fan of the songs as he is of the story.
“It’s definitely a show that’s going to have the audience mouthing the lyrics,” he said.
“Cyrano de BurgerShack” is fairly new, and hasn’t been performed in this part of the country by community or professional theaters. In fact, O’Connell said she has only been able to find reference to schools staging the show previously.
Besides a contemporary setting and the more-or-less contemporary music, “Cyrano de BurgerShack” has a few other clever ways to update the Edmond Rostand play from 1897.
“They use technology,” O’Connell said of the musical’s characters. “Cyrano texts and uses social media to tell Roxanne about his feelings.”