Don Quixote and Sancho Ride Triumphantly at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 By: Jerry Eimbinder Source: PATCH

Fifty years have passed since the debut of Man of La Mancha — it remains a musical to see, enjoy, and wonder if you have just watched a comedy, a tragedy or perchance both.

The odds are you already know the story line for Man of La Mancha which opened yesterday at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (a dinner/theater in Elmsford). The play, set in Seville during the Spanish Inquisition, is loosely a musical adaption of Miguel de Cervantes’ enduring classic, “The Adventures of Don Quixote.” De Cervantes’ tale like William Shakespeare’s work has long survived even though the product of a distant time. Both de Cervantes and Shakespeare died in April, 1616.

Man of La Mancha is a play within a play — Cervantes (Paul Schoeffler) is in prison and on trial but not by The Inquisition — that will come later. First, he must convince a jury of fellow prisoners not to burn his manuscript.

The prisoners become actors as the plot unfurls. Sancho (played by Gary Marachek) is Don Quixote’s all-knowing squire — quite aware of his master’s madness as are the members of the audience. A windmill turns out to a formidable foe for the knight-to be, and a servant that Don Quixote mistakes for a lady is essential to the development of the plot.

The Impossible Dream
Schoeffler gets to sing “The Impossible Dream” four times during this show and if he did it four times more, it would still be fine with me. The Impossible Dream, with nary a doubt, is one of the most touching and memorable songs ever performed on the Broadway stage. It’s hauntingly beautiful lyrics remain in your consciousness long after the curtain goes down. Schoeffier, his character displaying lots of bravado, is convincing as he delivers this wonderful show-stopping song to close the first act, open the second act, and sing twice again.

Michelle Dawson (Dulcinea to Don Quixote, Aldonza to everyone else) is an absolute show stealer and Marachek gets laughs playing sidekick Sancho.

A couple of nicely executed uses of props are the dramatic lowering of a staircase to a dungeon floor and a pair of impressive imitations for the horses Don Quixote and Sancho ride as they venture forth to perform noble deeds.

Dinner is included in the price of admission. Two new entrées are offered and many familiar ones appear on Executive Chef Alexandra Sampaio’s Man of La Mancha menu.

One of the chef’s newcomers is “Chicken Lyonnaise,” a boneless chicken breast with sautéed onions, garlic, white wine and tomato paste—served with rice pilaf and vegetables. The other is “Roasted Pork with Sage and Pearl Onions,” accompanied by sautéed mushrooms, white wine and sage, and served with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, and vegetables.

One of my favorite dishes on the regular menu is gluten-free “Cod Florentine,” served with a mound of sautéed creamy spinach, chunks of roasted potato and vegetables. Another standout is the boneless prime rib of beef with a baked potato. 

An alcoholic beverage called “Dulcinea’s Delight” was created especially for the attendees of this play. Priced at $9, it blends raspberry vodka with pineapple juice and club soda and is served in a special souvenir take-home glass.

“Dulcinea’s Delight” is named after the female character (Dulcinea/Aldonza) in the play who is a serving wench in an inn and a part-time woman-of-ill-repute. Don Quixote mistakingly believes she is the lady Dulcinea, who he is honor-bound to protect.

As a reminder, here are the lyrics that begin The Impossible Dream: 

"To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

"To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

"This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far”

Man of La Mancha’s run ends on May 1, 2016. Ticket prices, including dinner and show, range from $56 to $84 plus tax depending on the performance chosen.

The Westchester Broadway Theatre is at 1 Broadway Plaza (175 Clearbrook Road), Elmsford, NY. Box office: (914) 592-2222.