Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac" is a story of unrequited love told with pathos, understanding and a dash of comedy. Aquila Theatre returns to George Mason University for the second time this season with their latest production of this classic starring British actor Jamie Bower. Desiree Sanchez directed "The Taming of the Shrew" performed here earlier this season. Now she is once again at the helm.

"This is a very different take on the story," she said. "It's unlike our version of the Shakespeare work in that it's more fluid and dreamlike. Jamie Bower, the British actor who plays Cyrano, is brilliant. He's somebody the audience can relate to. Most people feel like Cyrano sometime in their lives when they want something very badly but have no means to get it. Bower brings out his inner feelings and the poignant relationship between himself and Roxane.

'Cyrano de Bergerac'
Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Ave., Fairfax
When: 8 p.m. Friday; pre-performance discussion by a company member
Info: $20 to $40; 888-945-2468; cfa.gmu.edu

"The story is set in 1913, just before World War I, a wonderful choice for the beautiful art deco costumes of the period. The cadets are members of the French Foreign Legion and the music by English composer Joe Robinson captures exactly what I requested, something between the sound track of the French movie 'Amelie' and Edith Piaf."

Aquila Theater is a British-American professional touring company founded in London in 1991 by Peter Meineck, a former Royal Marine. In 1999, he brought the company to New York where it is in residence at New York University's Center for Ancient Studies. Desiree Sanchez was a ballet dancer whose career included principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. She was rehearsing when Meineck first saw her across a crowded room. Their storybook love affair culminated in marriage and Sanchez quickly became a vital member of Aquila's creative team.

"Before taking a play on the road, we begin planning at least two months in advance because it takes six to eight weeks for the actors' visas," Sanchez said. "There is an intense rehearsal period of three weeks that may be done partly in London, partly in the States, and often in Europe. We have a relationship in Greece that allows us to take actors away from their usual environment.

"Audiences love our presentation of 'Cyrano' for many reasons, especially for the way Jamie Bower delivers the lines. They also love the music and they comment on the beautiful singing at the beginning. This is an outstanding production that touches every heart."