CUE Review: Man Of La Mancha

Published: Friday, March 18, 2016 By: Paul Scott Source: THE CUE

Currently on stage at the Westchester Broadway Theatre is Dale Wasserman’s MAN OF LA MANCHA. This literate musical, imaginatively adapted by the book writer Wasserman, composer Mitch Leigh and lyricist Joe Darion from Miguel de Cervantes’ enduringly relevant 17th Century novel” Don Quixote,” remains one of the most durable Broadway hits from the 60s. It is also one of the most challenging, demanding performers who can act, sing and dance in order to present the play’s flavorful show within-in-a–show conceit. Although some of the incidents are comical, MAN OF LA MANCHA offers an essentially somber narrative that involves rape, oppression and other brutality. 

Director / Choreographer David Wasson elicits fresh and powerful performances from this talented collection of actors. Led by veteran actor Paul Schoeffler as Cervantes / Don Quixote, he dominates the stage with a masterful performance, endearing as the narrator (Cervantes) yet grandiose as his fictional hero, (Quixote). Schoeffler commands the stage when he belts out the show’s glorious signature tune, “The Impossible Dream.”

Michelle Dawson as the bedraggled, but spunky kitchen wench embodies her character portraying Aldonza / Dulcinea as the perpetual victim as well as a gutsy survivor as evidenced in her contrasting fiery lament “Aldonza” and pensive “What Does He Want of Me.” Gary Marachek as Quixote’s sidekick, Sancho Panza, adds humor and a lighter tone to this production. Special note should be given to Alan M-L Wager as, Padre and his rendition of “To Each His Dulcinea.” Kudos to the ensemble who did an amazing job keeping the tension and action moving along particularly in the production’s Rape Scene.

Michael Bottari & Ronald Case’s atmospheric set design aptly create the scene for the dark and dank communal cell in a dungeon, complete with a lowering drawbridge and their costume design support the story’s tone and mood. Patrick Hoagland’s musical direction beautifully serves the score and Andrew Gmoser’s lighting design is terrific to help establish the changing moods of the show.

MAN OF LA MANCHA continues on the WBT Stage through May 1, 2016. For information or tickets, call 914/ 592-2222.