“Man of La Mancha” at WBT: In Two Words: Simply Magnificent

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 12:00 pm By: Sue Ann Witt Source: RISING MEDIA

Man of La Mancha is a musical within a play. It is based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. While the novel was written in the 1600s, the political unrest, visions, dreams and quests are as timely today as they were then.

As a poet, author and tax collector during the Spanish Inquisition, Cervantes, along with his man servant, is thrown into prison for foreclosing on a monastery. He will stand for two trials, one for the Inquisition, and a mock trial by fellow prisoners. Cervantes is ordered to defend himself in order to protect the manuscript he is carrying and the contents of his trunk. He tells them the story of an aging nobleman and, using makeup and props from his trunk, becomes the knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha. Don Quixote travels with his squire, Sancho Panza, battles windmills, and finds his Dulcinea, the woman of his dreams, who is in fact a kitchen wench named Aldonza.

This is one of the finest casts to perform at Westchester Broadway Theatre. Each performer is a standout - Joseph Torello, Gary Marachek, Geoff Belliston, Ian Knauer, Dougie Robbins, Jose Antonio, Alan Gillespie, John Paul LaPorte, Diego Rios, Corinne Scott, Gabriella Perez, Sarah Hanlon, Joanne Borts, Alan M-L Wager, David Cantor - and together this cast is an example of perfection.

This reviewer must single out Paul Schoeffler (Cervantes/Don Quixote) and Michelle Dawson (Aldonza/Dulcinea). Mr. Schoeffler’s handles the dual role with great strength and draws the audience into his story and delusion. While all his musical numbers are enhanced by his magnificent voice, the delivery of “The Impossible Dream” brought the house down with cheers and left us wanting more. Ms. Dawson plays her role with the perfect balance of toughness and vulnerability. “It’s All The Same” tells us of what her life has been and “What Does He Want of Me?” demonstrates how confused she is by Cervantes thinking she is a lady and not just a wench and someone to be used by men.

The score is a wonderfully familiar one that also includes, among others, “Aldonza”, “Dulcinea”, “Man of La Mancha”, “Little Bird, Little Bird”.

Man of La Mancha plays now to May 1st. Reservations can be made by calling 914-592-2222 or online at www.BroadwayTheatre.com. Westchester Broadway Theatre is located at 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford, NY 10526.