“MAN OF LA MANCHA” ATTAINS GREATNESS AT IVORYTON


BONNIE GOLDBERG

One day each of us might be asked to stand tall and fight for a cause  even if it seems hopeless. We must dream impossible dreams and work to make them come true. The epitome of battling for unrealistic goals is surely Don Quixote. Rarely in literature has there been a more gallant and brave individual driven by fantasies, who has ridden off to battle giants even if they are really windmills, envisioned castles when they are actually only humble inns and courted ladies who are in fact lowly scullery maids.

To meet the classically heroic figure of Don Quixote, one must journey to Ivoryton Playhouse by Sunday, October 2 to witness Dale Wasserman’s legendary tale of the “Man of La Mancha,” with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion.

When Miguel de Cervantes, poet, playwright, actor and tax collector is thrown into prison and forced to plead his case before the Spanish Inquisition, he finds to his dismay that his fellow prisoners want to put him on trial first. They charge him with being an idealist, a poet and an honest man. In his defense, he conjures up a charade, an entertainment, a tale of a country squire turned knight, one Don Quixote.

Using the inmates as his actors, Cervantes, magnificently and gloriously portrayed by David Pittsinger, plays the hero who sallies forth into battle to slay dragons and rescue fair maidens. With his trusty servant Sancho Panza, an affable Brian Michael Hoffman, at his side spouting proverbs of encouragement, Don Quixote first faces the Great Enchanter, a giant with many arms, that to some might resemble a windmill.

Soon he seeks shelter at a nearby castle, wanting hospitality from the lord (James Van Treuren), who for all the world looks like a mere keeper of an inn. But it is when Quixote’s eyes behold the unkempt maid, whom he claims as his Dulcinea, a fiery and disbelieving but engaging Talia Thiesfield, that his illusions truly take wing. Is he a mad man or the sanest of us all?

Musical numbers soar from the title song to the lyrical “Dulcinea,” the sweetness of “Little Bird,” the laughter of “I Really Like Him” to the power of “The Impossible Dream.” This production is gallantly directed by David Edwards, on a versatile set designed by Daniel Nischan, with lighting by Marcus Abbott, and musical direction by Paul Feyer.

For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22, children $17), call Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., with extra matinees September 24 and October 1 at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Experience theater at its best as you travel across the dusty Spanish plains with a slightly foolish knight who dreams of attaining glory.

 

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