You never forget your first play.
OK, so perhaps not all of us can make that statement. But it certainly applies to Brad McEntire. He read “Cyrano de Bergerac” when he was 15, and the classic 1897 play by Edmond Rostand has stuck with him ever since.
McEntire’s one-man show “Cyrano A-Go-Go” is one of the highlights of this weekend’s “Seattle to Fresno: Best of Fringe” mini-festival, which brings five acts to Mia Cuppa Cafe in the Tower District. We caught up with McEntire by phone to get this rundown.
▪ The show: “Cyrano A-Go-Go” is a semi-autobiographical production that mixes McEntire’s quarter-century-long “Cyrano” infatuation with the play itself. The show mixes the personal, historical and literary. You get commentary on what the times were like when the play was written, and McEntire jumps into character and performs snippets of “Cyrano” itself.
▪ The big nose: If you’re unfamiliar with the story of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” you’ve still probably heard of the title character’s whopper of a nose. (In Steve Martin’s 1987 movie adaptation “Roxanne,” his nose was huge, which was one reason he was so shy about expressing his love for Roxanne, played by Daryl Hannah.) In McEntire’s show, he asks the audience to imagine the nose, but he doesn’t wear a prosthetic.
▪ The history: “It’s an example where theater legitimately changed the world,” McEntire says. France was a country torn apart during the time the original “Cyrano” was produced, with lots of political and social turbulence, and this play “celebrating Frenchness” helped unify the nation.
▪ The unrequited angle: Unrequited love is a major theme of “Cyrano,” and McEntire brings in his own romantic (or lack thereof) history regarding the matter.
▪ The back story: In 2011, the Dallas Shakespeare Festival scheduled “Cyrano de Bergerac” on its mainstage, and McEntire came up with an idea for the company: How about staging a complementary one-man show providing background and focusing on his fascination with the title? The company bit, and McEntire performed in the afternoons during the mainstage run. Afterward he trimmed and shaped the show and took it on the fringe-festival circuit.
▪ The performances: “Cyrano A-Go-Go” is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27; 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28; and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29.
▪ The mini-festival: “Seattle to Fresno” is sponsored by the Rogue Festival. It is curated by former Rogue producer Jayne Day and Grant Knutson of Seattle’s Minion Productions.
The other four shows are the Fresno Dance Collective (NOCO)’s “The Life of a House Plant”; “Dirty Messy Love” by Los Angeles-based storyteller Les Kurkendaal; “Damn Fine Magic,” a vaudeville magic show by The Baggy Pants; and “Existentialism in B Minor,” a one-man show by Fresno playwright Joshua Ryan Taylor. Performances are Thursday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 30, at Mia Cuppa Caffe, 620 E Olive Ave. Tickets are $10. Details: www.minionproductions.org/seattle-to-fresno.