THE LATE Jimmy Durante used to joke about the size of his "schnozzola" and Bob Hope is frequently the butt of unkind remarks about the nose that graces his physiognomy - but the world champion nose (except for Pinocchio, and his changes too much, so it doesn't count), probably belongs to Cyrano de Bergerac.
Next week, the Lees Main Stage at Pioneer Memorial Theater will come to life with the colorful excitement of the Cavalier Era of King Louis XIII as Pioneer Theatre Company presents its version of Edmond Rostand's classic story of swashbuckling, long-nosed hero, "Cyrano de Bergerac."PTC frequently casts many of its performers in New York City, but for "Cyrano," even leading actor Mark Capri's nose was cast - literally - in the Big Apple.
It helped, of course, that Capri was in New York at the time. The actor had barely half an hour to spare before catching a flight to Los Angeles, but it was enough time to pull a face mold so that sculptor Charles Kulsziski had an exact copy of his face from which to create an extended nosepiece.
Kulsziski is one of several freelance artists employed by Martin Izquerdo Studio in New York City, where David C. Paulin, the costume designer for "Cyrano de Bergerac," is production designer. The studio is one of the major costume/craft houses in New York.
Kulsziski then created a plaster "positive" of Capri's face, which he used to sculpt the prominent proboscis.
Paulin, during an interview and quick tour of the costume shop in the basement of the Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the University of Utah campus, noted that Capri, who is large in stature and has a large-boned face, already has "a handsomely generous nose."
But the new latex extension adds another inch or so for the role of Cyrano. (Brian Hooker's translation of Edmond Rostand's script for "Cyrano de Bergerac" doesn't really delve into specifics, but there are several references to and commentary about the length of Cyrano's unattractively large nose.)
Since it's supposed to be unattractive, Paulin and Kulsziski, created one that is pourous and ruddy, not smooth. Paulin has also instructed a makeup artist at PTC how to afix the nose over the front of Capri's original. The lightweight latex nose is stuffed with cotton batting, so it will hold its shape, then a layer of latex is painted over the seam, which is then coated with greasepaint tomatch Capri's makeup. (Of course, the nostrils in the fake match Capri's, so he can breath on stage.)
The bottom line: This is an olfactus not to be sniffed at.
But "Cyrano" is more than just a pretty, big nose.
As costume designer, former U. of U. theater student Paulin also faced the task of sketching, designing and creating 17th Century Cavalier Era costumes for the swashbuckling show, being directed by PTC artistic director Charles Morey.
Ever budget-conscious (as most costume designers are wont to be), Paulin first made a foray through PTC's wardrobe closets. He pulled old costumes that would not likely be used again and was able to remodel them into fancy cloaks and jackets, pants and dresses, for the 28-member cast of "Cyrano." (There are eight leading characters, and many of the others play two and three roles.)
Cutting material isn't the only thing a costume designer worries about. Cutting corners has top priority, too.
To create original costumes, Paulin and his staff (seven full-time PMT costumers, augmented by five part-timers during the hectic time just before the dress rehearsal) used a variety of materials - from lace to hand-me-down draperies - to build elegant-looking costumes from scratch.
Paulin is familiar with PTC's operation. The Detroit native did undergraduate work at Wayne State University, where he majored in classic English literature before switching to theater. When he auditioned for the United Repertory Theatre Association (a sort of clearing house for several campuses), he was faced with two interesting offers - one at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pa., and the other with the theater department at the University of Utah.
"The minute I got off the plane in Salt Lake City, I knew I'd found paradise. Pittsburgh is too much like Detroit," said Paulin.
The U. of U. program also provided him an internship with four-time Tony Award winning costume designer Patricia Zipprodt in New York City, which eventually paved the way for Paulin to be involved, as assistant and/or designer, for such shows as "The Glass Menagerie" (a revival with Jessica Tandy), "Sunday in the Park With George" (working with Ann Hould-Ward), and, more recently, Stephen Sondheim's "Into The Woods," the Joffrey Ballet's world premiere of a new version of "The Nutcracker" and the upcoming Peter Allen musical, "Legs Diamond.".
Somewhere between "Mengerie" and "Into the Woods," Paulin traveled back and forth between Salt Lake City and New York, designing several shows at the U., finishing four thesis papers (separate reports on "Elephant Man," Babcock's "Three-Penny Opera," "Charley's Aunt" and the fourth one on his work as Beth Novak's assistant for the Utah Shakespearean Festival). He also designed such PTC shows as "A Chorus Line" and "The Sound of Music," among others.
In 1983 he got his MFA with theater design emphasis, then worked for a year as a draper (draping forms and making patterns) and fine-tuning the technical expertise it takes to succeed in New York.
Now, although he's based in New York, Paulin is working all over the country. Overlapping his "Cyrano" project is "Much Ado About Nothing" for the New Mexico Repertory Theater in Santa Fe, along with his "Legs Diamond" work in New York (helping designer Willa Kim). Just before flying to Salt Lake City recently, he spent 90 minutes racing through the thrift shops and Salvation Army stores along 8th Street in New York, scavanging for additional costumes for a chorus line of gangsters for "Legs Diamond," which has just opened for preview performances.
"It was crazy, but that's New York. It's a world of extremes," said Paulin.
He has taught makeup design at the U. and has also been a resident designer for the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire, where Charles Morey was artistic director.
Paulin says the costume shop at Pioneer Memorial Theater is "incredible."
"It's a West Coast version of Barbara Matera one of New York's top costuming housesT. Top quality and concern for design translation come first and very, very few compromises are made," he said.
As an undergraduate, Paulin had some experience as an actor, but he admits to suffering from stage fright and functions better behind the cutting table, not the footlights.
And now that Cyrano's nose is finished, he can breath a little easier.