November 2, 2007 / 6:05 PM / in 10 years

Garner gets mixed reviews in Broadway debut

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actress Jennifer Garner has become the latest Hollywood star to debut on Broadway, receiving mixed reviews on Friday for performance role alongside Kevin Kline in a revival of “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

<p>Actors Jennifer Garner (C), Kevin Kline (R) and Daniel Sunjata (L) bow to the crowd following their opening night of the Broadway production of "Cyrano de Bergerac" in New York November 1, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>

Garner, married to actor director Ben Affleck, stars as Roxane, the love interest of Cyrano, played by Kline.

Cyrano pines for Roxane but fears she will not be interested because he has a large nose so instead pens love letters to her for the dim-witted, yet handsome Christian de Neuvillette (played by Daniel Sunjata), whom Roxane loves.

“The latest in a series of boldface film and television actresses to test their stage legs (including Julia Roberts and Claire Danes), Ms. Garner seems by far the most comfortable,” New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote.

“If she’s a tad stilted in the big tragic finale, her comic timing is impeccable,” he said.

Kline, Brantley added, “knows what he’s doing.”

Kline has starred in several Broadway productions, winning a Tony Award in 1978 for his role in “On the Twentieth Century” and in 1981 for “The Pirates of Penzance.” He also won an Oscar in 1989 for his role in “A Fish Called Wanda.”

<p>Actors Jennifer Garner exits the theater following her opening night of the Broadway production of "Cyrano de Bergerac" in New York November 1, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>

New York Post critic Clive Barnes praised Kline’s performance as Cyrano, writing that “if you go just to see Kline ... you will certainly get your money’s worth.”

But of Garner -- best known for her Golden Globe-winning role as a spy on the television series “Alias” -- and Sunjata he said they “are knee deep in film and TV credits, but despite Garner’s promising opening scenes, they wade in onstage projecting little or nothing.”

<p>Actress Jennifer Garner exits the theater following her opening night of the Broadway production of "Cyrano de Bergerac" in New York November 1, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>

While Garner worked as an understudy for a 1995 Broadway production of “A Month in the Country,” starring British Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, a spokeswoman for “Cyrano de Bergerac” said the actress never officially made her debut.

The Daily News said Garner “brings her natural beauty to Roxane, but she’s miscast.” Critic Joe Dziemianowicz added “Garner goes from little-girl breathy to Kathleen Turner husky, and either way she breathes no conviction into her role.”

“Broadway’s ‘Cyrano’ needs more than a nose job. It’s in need of a heart transplant,” he said.

“Cyrano de Bergerac” was last performed on Broadway in 1984. There have also been several film adaptations, including the 1990 French-language version starring Gerard Depardieu, and the 1987 comedic reinterpretation Roxanne, with Steve Martin.

Reuters

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