Man of La Mancha
Man of La Mancha
Book by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Directed by George Colangelo
Starring Kelly Joe Hall, Ryan Nyman, and Iris Johnson
Seminole State College, Lake Mary, FL</strong>
Here’s an interesting approach to a minimalist musical: Hire a cast that can’t sing their way out of a paper bag. The story is based on the famous novel by Cervantes; he pokes fun at the popular knightly romances that made the best sellers list in 1600. In the meta-story Cervantes (Hall) is up before the inquisition, and while in jail he’s mock-tried by the other prisoners. He defends himself with musical theatre and that’s the essence of the tale most people recall. Cervantes plays Alonso Quixano who reads too many books on chivalry. In the nether land of his mind he is Don Quixote: knight errant, defender of the weak and demigod of the delusional. He’s well off and rural; that’s what gives him the resources to indulge. He heads out with his Gilligan-esqe side kick Sancho Panza (Nyman) looking for adventure. Sancho is the earthy yet clever one; he has a pithy aphorism for any occasion. They gets as far down the road as the next village; there he annoys the staff by calling scullery maid Aldonza (Johnson) “Dulcina.” She rejects the Don’s advances but can’t fend off her violent boyfriend; tonight’s emotional peak is her rape by Carrasco (Eric Arroyo). Our Don can do little to help with his twisted sword, and today we would call him dementia and make him wear “Depends;” but back then everything was blamed on demons and they burned you at the stake.
The set is a dream of stones and dampness (thanks to paint by Tommy Mangieri); but the boat winch used to raise and lower the stairs to the Jesuit world above screams like it never heard of lube oil. Mr. Hall is acceptable as an actor but he has neither the depth nor range to sing the anthems endemic to this classic. On the other hand, Ms. Johnson does her best to keep things musical; her “Dulcina Reprise” is exceptional and overshined anything else sung tonight. The Innkeeper (Alexander Burns) also makes the grade with his “Knight of Woeful Countenance” But woeful indeed was the singing voice of the padre (Anthony Uccello) who crucified “To Each His Dulcina.” There are a few positives; the costumes were perfect for the dungeon’s demeanor, the fights and rapes were crisply executed under the guidance of fight captain Eric Arroyo and there was a nice live ensemble backstage. But as to the vocals: better they hum and recite than sing.
For more information on the Seminole State College Theater program, please visit http://www.seminolestate.edu/arts/theatre/boxoffice.htm