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First ever Asian American Cyrano directed by Asian American

Kansas City Repertory Theatre opens its 60th anniversary season with a fresh adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac by Martin Crimp, directed by Nelson T. Eusebio III.

Associate Artistic Director Nelson T. Eusebio III acknowledges the “many firsts on this show”, such as Crimp’s adapted script being produced by a U.S. theatre. This is the first time an Asian American actor will be playing Cyrano in a major regional theatre production, as well as the first time an Asian American director-led ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ will be presented in a U.S regional theatre.

Director Nelson T. Eusebio III is a Filipino American freelance director, producer and award-winning filmmaker and former artistic director of Leviathan Lab, an Asian American creative studio.

In 2008, he co-founded the New York City-based theatre collective Creative Destruction. He has directed and developed work at theaters throughout the country, including the Public Theater/NYSF, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Old Globe, Playmaker’s Repertory and Ma-Yi Theatre Company.

The production features James Chen as Cyrano de Bergerac, Ito Aghayere as Roxane, Khalif J. Gillett as Lignière/Montfleury, Jimmy Kieffer as De Guiche, Christopher Rivas as Christian, Eileen Rivera as Leila Ragjeneau and Bradley J. Thomas as Le Bret. They will be joined by an ensemble consisting of Dri Hernaez, Nico Holguin, Craig Marcus Lindsay and Will Porter.

Chinese American actor James Chen was born and raised in New York and is widely known for his part in the drama series Walking Dead and film series The Amazing Spiderman.

Eileen Rivera, who will be playing Laila Ragjeneau, co-founded The Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), which received a 2022 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre, as well as a Special Obie Citation in 2020 for advocacy in the field of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Nelson Eusebio III
KC Rep photo

Director Eusebio III expressed that he is “thrilled to be directing this fresh adaptation of Rostand’s classic story of swashbuckling action, hilarious characters and heartbreaking romance. Cyrano has been on my ‘bucket list’ of plays to direct and I am so excited to share my vision for this classic in a new version by Martin Crimp featuring an incredible cast, contemporary design and language that will make you swoon.”

Cyrano de Bergerac, originally written by Edmond Rostand, blends spoken word, contemporary poetry and raw physicality to retell the classic tale of Cyrano and his tragic love story with Roxane through rap and rhymes.

The design and production team for Cyrano de Bergerac includes associate sound designer Gianna Agostino, assistant stage manager Jordan Canon-Kruis, stage manager Rachel Dyer, assistant lighting designer Zeb Johnson, costume designer Paul Kim, production assistants Dana Peterson and Gabby Price, scenic designer Riw Rakkulchon, assistant director Mackenzie Reppy, sound designer Jon Roberston, fight coordinator Michael Rossmy, associate director Emily Shackelford and lighting designer Marie Yokoyama.

Casting by JZ Casting—Geoff Josselson and Katja Zarolinski (New York Casting) and Andi Meyer (Artistic Associate/Kansas City Casting).

Performances are set to run from September 5 through 24, 2023, at Spencer Theatre. For more information on the show, visit their the Kansas City Repertory Theatre website.

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