There are certain seminal moments in the theatre that audiences are aware of and have certain expectations about. If the performers meet or exceed those expectations, the show is a hit…if not, even if everything else is perfect, the audience is left unsatisfied. MAN OF LA MANCHA has one such moment…Don Quixote’s “Impossible Dream.” More about this later…
Dramateurs at the Barn opened MAN OF LA MANCHA on Friday, August 22. LA MANCHA is based on Cervantes’ novel “Don Quixote”, and tells the story of the mad knight and his faithful friend/squire Sancho as a play within a play as Cervantes awaits a hearing before the Spanish Inquisition.
The performances in this production are first-rate. Jonathan Sills plays Cervantes and Don Quixote, and gives each a distinctive personality. His Cervantes is self-assured, gregarious and confident; his Quixote has the wide-eyed look of someone not quite there, and is fanatically devoted to the knightly standards. Troy Fisher as Sancho is a devoted friend/servant, not seeing what his “Master” is seeing, yet accompanies him willingly. Nina Harper is Aldonza…the kitchen maid and courtesan. Harper is hard, cynical and intimidating…until swayed by Quixote’s treatment of his “Dulcinea.” Jon Treadwell (Duke/Dr. Carasco) is both the eager prosecutor and haughty Doctor…well done in his stage debut. Peter Haas brings a humorous side to the Padre/Anselmo/Moor, yet is the faithful friend and supporter. Steve Arcidiacono is the man in charge as the Governor, and the agreeable Innkeeper. And so many more…all solid, all very well done.
The direction by Eileen Ciccarone is terrific, the cast moving in and out seamlessly, no movement distracting from the focus on stage. The pace is brisk without being too fast, characters are all very well-defined, and the story is definitely the co-star of this production. Music Director Konnie Stark has the orchestra working beautifully, and did a terrific job with the cast in coaching them to tell the story with the songs. Aldonza’s song (appropriately titled “Aldonza”) gives her back story as well as gives a clear indication of what Quixote has done to her. This is the first time I ever felt that the story was being told musically. The same is true of every musical number in this production…beautiful music, beautifully done, but with an eye toward telling the story. Well done, everyone. The set is beautiful…a dreary dungeon, with perfect area lighting to highlight the necessary areas. Costumes are functional and era-appropriate. All in all, a well-coordinated look, enhancing the work of the performers.
And that seminal moment? Quixote, center stage, at first wild-eyed with is conviction, but as the song progresses you know that he BELIEVES what he is singing/saying. Vocally spot-on, dramatically inspiring…Richard Kiley would be proud.
This is a terrific production, one that will stay with you for a while.
MAN OF LA MANCHA
Book by Dale Wasserman, Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion
Based on the novel “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes
Directed by Eileen Ciccarone
Music Direction by Konnie Stark
August 22-September 6, 2014
Dramateurs Inc at the Barn Playhouse
Christopher Lane & Rittenhouse Blvd,
Jeffersonville, PA 19403