MAN OF LA MANCHA SOARS AT PCPH

A Review by Larkin

 

Man of La Mancha is clearly the best play put on by the Putnam County Playhouse this year - so far. I can't say the best EVER because I have only been attending for about 17 years of the 47 years PCPH has been producing entertainment.

The musical won the Tony Award for best musical in 1966 and the lead, Richard Kiley won best musical actor. I have seen Kiley perform the role twice before, the Playhouse lead, Ric McFadden, does it just as well.

Jack Randall Earles, who directs, has done a wonderful job with the set and an outstanding job with his cast.

Songs with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh include "Dulcinea", "It's All the Same", "The Quest", and "Little Bird."

The three outstanding singers are McFadden, who is in great voice; Caroline Good, who plays Aldonza and Dulcinea; and Kenny Buchanan, who plays the priest. They each also offer fine characterizations of difficult roles.

Jim Poor who plays Sancho Panza, is the funniest person in who play. His songs are humerous and his lines have a delightful comedic wit.

The story is about Miguel de Cervantes, who along with Sancho, ends up in a dungeon with all sorts of scurvy characters. The prisoners put de Cervantes on trial among themselves. He pleads guilty, knowing that his fellow prisoners will find him guilty anyway, but he insists upon mounting a defense. He begins the charade of Don Quixote and assigns various roles in the story to his fellow prisoners. During the course of the evening we bounce back and forth between the reality of the prison and the world of Quixote's imagination.

As Don Quixote, a knight, he starts off fighting a windmill (which he thinks is an ogre), he loses badly. He and Sancho eventually come to an inn (which Migual thinks is a castle). There he meets the Lord of castle (Jim Rambo) and the lowly housekeeper Aldonza, whom Don Quixote decides is Dulcinea, his lady whom he must defend.

In the second act, the Lord dubs Don Quixote a knight, after he, Sancho and Aldonza have whipped the tar out of a bunch of muleteers.

Don Quixote and Sancho leave to seek out further adventures, and the muleteers attack Aldonza. Don Quixote and Sancho come across some Moors, who steal their horses and their money. There follows an encounter with the Knight of the Mirrors, who makes Quixote recognize the fault of his ways come back to reality.

In the final scene of the contrived play by Dale Wasserman, Don Quixote comes to his senses and he realizes he has been dreaming. But Dulcinea comes into the room and convinces the Knight Errant that he did not have a dream have at all.

We are then taken once again back to the reality of the prison.. The guards from above come down into the dungeon and take Miguel de Cervates and Sancho off to stand trial. The prisoners show how Cervantes has inspired them during his short stay in the prison by singing his philosophical song “The Impossible Dream”. also known as “The Quest.” Aldonza leads them in this reprise claiming for herself the name of Dulcinea. It is an emotional ending, and several wept during last song, me included.

Rambo, Chris Wurster (who plays the Duke, the prosecutor, and Dr. Carrasco) and Kyla Scheuermann (who played Antonia) did well in their roles. T.J Tincher, (who plays Pedro, the leader the Muleteers) is a nasty person in his character, slapping Aldonza several times (and getting totally beaten up himself) and Pete Edberg, who plays the barber both add memorable moments to the evening.

The other players were Shelly McFadden, Sandi Rossock, Katie Clark, Timothy Stiles, Erik Krag, Tayler Benware, Don Wilson, Alixandra Geen and Alex Briones.

The musicians were Marilyn Burdsall, who was the musical director and pianist; Lynne Tweedie, synthesizer; Drew Brattain, bass guitar; and Alex Cole, percussion.

 

The production staff included Ric McFadden as the vocal director; Tyson Myrick as assistant director and production stage manager; Rossok, as production coordinator; and Good as the costumer.

The set design was by Earles and Poor; additional designs and painting were by Linda Gjesvold, Poor was the light designer; Bryan Schroeder was the sound designer; Tiarra Phillips was the light operator; and Kirsten Burger was the sound assistant. Tony Canady ran the spotlight and Roxanne Wheeler also worked backstage.

The set was built by Poor, Myrick, Wilson, Tincher, Emily Poor, Gyesvold, Wurster, Rossok, Rambo and Scheuermann. The equine headgear and was designed and constructed by Lukas Schooler.