Karl Hugh, Utah Shakespearean Festival
James Newcomb, left, as Viscount de Valvert and Brian Vaughn as Cyrano de Bergerac in the Utah Shakespearean Festival's 2008 production of Cyrano de Bergerac.
"CYRANO DE BERGERAC," Utah Shakespearean Festival, Cedar City, through Aug. 30 (800-752-9849 or www.bard.org); running time: 3 hours (one intermission)

In his welcome speech, R. Scott Phillips, executive director of the Utah Shakespearean Festival, noted it's the Festival's 47th season and the company had received greetings from The White House on opening night.

With six plays being produced this year, the Festival had a tremendous opening night with "Cyrano de Bergerac."

The story about a wordsmith with a big nose is a famous one, but until you've seen it live, on a lovely summer evening in a beautiful outdoor setting — you haven't seen the show.

And you haven't seen the show unless you see it with an lead actor who can make make the part sizzle. That' what what USF has with Brian Vaughn.

Under the direction of longtime friend and colleague David Ivers, Vaughn delivers another sparkling performance, bringing all the swagger, sophistication, humor, honesty, vulnerability and honor the role of Cyrano requires. And he's completely captivating ... captivating, endearing and heartbreaking.

Edmond Rostand's classic tale, translated by Anthony Burgess, is considered by many to be the greatest love story ever told. After last night's performance, I'm a believer.

Vaughn is not alone in the success of the evening, however. His real-life wife, Melinda Pfundstein, is lovely as Cyrano's love interest, Roxanne — with wide-eyed beauty and coquettish charm. This was especially true during the famous balcony scene. which had a nice realism as the soft Cedar City breezes seemed to sway on cue in the Adams Outdoor Theatre.

But the show is funny, too. A great supporting cast, including Drew Shirley, Matthew Henerson and James Newcomb keep the show's momentum and light-hearted moments moving. Subtle lighting by Donna Ruzika, and David Kay Mickelsen's stunning costumes make "Cyrano de Bergerac" a must-see at the Festival.

After a rousing standing ovation, many theatergoers left wiping their eyes, sniffling and one woman gushed, "I cried off all of my mascara!"

If opening night is any indication, we're in for a real treat this season.

E-mail: [email protected]