MAN OF LA MANCHA
Book by Dale Wasserman, Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion
The Stage Door
Director - Mary Ann Morrow
Assistant Director/Stage Manager - Linda McAdams
Music Director - Kathy French
Set Design - Lisa Marie Cortez
Props - Linda McAdams and David Benedict
Light Design - Marc Atwood
Costumes - Linda Haines
Captain of the Inquisition/muleteer: Ed Freiheit
Sancho Panza: Dan Morrow
Miguel de Cervantes/Alonso Quijana/Don Quixote: Daniel Penz
Governor/Innkeeper: Jerome Stein
Dr. Sanson Carrasco/The Duke/Knight of the Mirrors: Kevin Fuld
Pedro (muleteer): Steven Pedro
Muleteer/horse: Edgar Escamilla
Muleteers: Garrett Atwood, Andrew Matthews, Bill Otstott
Aldonza/Dulcinea: Octavia Y. Thomas
Maria (Innkeeper's wife)/ensemble: Elisabeth Hassenboehler
Antonia (Alonso's niece)/gypsy: Naomi Worley
Housekeeper/gypsy/horse: Megan Miller
Padre: David Benedict
Barber/gypsy/ensemble: Alison Wheaton
Guitar Accompanist: Mark McAdams
Reviewed Performance: 1/26/2018
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Recreating a classic like Man of La Mancha always comes with an element of risk, especially when produced in a small space. Director Mary Ann Morrow was certainly up to the challenge. By making use of the entire stage, Morrow expanded the imagination to accommodate windmills, long journeys and the darker realities of life. No doubt selecting a top notch cast made her job easier.
As the titular Don Quixote de La Mancha, Daniel Penz brought a delightful air of eccentric creativity to the role, enhanced by his rich baritone and commanding stage presence. He had just the right mix of bravado, chivalry and naiveté to portray the knight errant we know and love.
Dan Morrow, as squire Sancho Panza, was brilliant in a hundred different ways. With both gestures and words, he provided just the right touch to bring the story to life and keep it believably entertaining. He was noticeable without stealing the scenes, and always engaged with the rest of the cast.
I couldn't have asked for a better Aldonza/Dulcinea than what Octavia Y. Thomas portrayed. Her singing was divine, her timing and delivery impeccable, and her transformation throughout the show was complete and believable, without benefit of costume change or any other visible cues. Thomas ruled the stage with a subtle grace that revealed the lady hiding underneath the rough exterior.
David Benedict portrayed the Padre nicely, if a bit too quietly. He was hard to hear at times, but otherwise his acting and singing was lovely. As the niece Antonia, Naomi Worley displayed a masterful command of both her actions and her beautiful voice. She blended well with her cast mates, but had no problem carrying her solos.
Kevin Fuld brought Dr. Carrasco to life with the perfect self-righteous attitude that the part demanded. He slipped easily between Dr. Carrasco and the prisoner called The Duke, and displayed just the right level of exasperation with Cervantes' stalling tactics. As the Governor/Innkeeper, Jerome Stein was delightfully bumbling, maintaining the illusion of control whether or not he actually possessed any.
Also of note were the horses (Edgar Escamilla and Megan Miller), complete with charming heads custom made by Molly Morrow, Alison Wheaton as the barber, and Mark McAdams' guitar accompaniment.
Music Director Kathy French did a great job teaching the sometimes complex rhythms and harmonies. The balance between voices could use a bit of tweaking, but that could have been due in part to where I was seated in comparison to the cast. Her use of segue from live accompaniment to tracks was masterful in both design and execution.
Lisa Marie Cortez's set was nicely done with hand-painted stone, various multi-function pieces, and a well complete with bucket on a rope. Props, by Linda McAdams and David Benedict, were well thought out and, except for the plastic spoons, appropriate for the setting. Costumes by Linda Haines were beautiful (or beautifully ragged, as the case may be). Marc Atwood's lights guided the audience gracefully toward the action, while Kathy French's sound design set the tone wonderfully.
My one complaint was the fight choreography. No credit was given in the program, and it was apparent that not enough thought was given to the specifics of the action in relation to the proximity to the audience. It was awkward at best and totally unbelievable at worst. Other than that, and a few opening night jitters, the rest of the production was a delightful way to spend an evening.
I have always loved Man of La Mancha, and this particular presentation did not disappoint. It is well worth your time to come and join the quest for the Impossible Dream.
Man of La Mancha runs through February 4 at The Stage Door.
For more information or to purchase tickets go to http://www.thestagedoorplano.com.