Saturday, July 25, 2015

Man of La Mancha

Central City Opera: 7/18 – 8/9

       Robert Orth as Cervantes/Don Quixote

      Central City Opera’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical, Man of La Mancha is a play within a play. While Don Miguel de Cervantes awaits his trial by the Spanish Inquisition he is put on trial by the other prisoners in this jail as well.            To keep from having his manuscript destroyed Cervantes self-transforms into Don Quixote de La Mancha and has all of the inmates join him as he enacts the story.          
     We watch as the prisoners who judge their new comrade move from cynicism to an expansive embrace of the Ideal. The ascension from a world of disgrace and sexual violence to one in which there is only the Quest for the Highest and Best in all of Life is emotionally rousing and profoundly spiritual.
     At certain moments in the proceedings in which Cervantes’ work speaks directly to the heart David Martin Jacques’ lighting design causes a bank of lights (the blinding light of  Spiritual Truth!) to ascend temporarily blinding us to the tawdry and transitory facts of life in the prison.
      Robert Orth commands the stage as the aging idealist Cervantes and his brave and noble – if somewhat eccentric - knight, Don Quixote. Orth’s singing of “The Impossible Dream” will make your  chest heave and eyes fill. Outstanding!
      Lucy Schaufer sings and acts the humiliated scullery maid Aldonza with heartbreaking brio. Her arc from seeing herself as a gutter dweller in “It’s All the Same” to the acceptance of her true spiritual nature as “Dulcinea” is soul shredding.
     Keith Jameson is outstanding as Quixote’s faithful sidekick, Sancho Panza. This artist, who is leaner and better looking than most who play this role, has impeccable comic timing and a magnificent tenor.
     The governor/innkeeper Adelmo Guidarelli, affectionately known as “the clown prince of opera,” stuns with his vocals of  “The Dubbing” and “Knight of the Woeful Countenance.”
     The trio of Padre (Michael Kuhn), Housekeeper (Molly Jane Hill) and Cervantes’ niece, Antonia (April Martin) is all honeyed harmony as these three worry about their “crazy” uncle and friend in “I’m Only Thinking of Him.”
       As played by the scrumptious Central City Opera orchestra under the baton of conductor Adam Turner, the Tony Award-winning score by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion is a rousing, ear-pleasing wonder.
       If there were one thing one might wish to ask of the director it would be that those awaiting their fate at the hands of the Grand Inquisitor may wish to show a little fear and trepidation as they are marched off to execution. Small criticism for an otherwise beautifully realized production.

This production has been rated PG-13 for sexual violence.

Matinees at 2:30 pm: July 22*, 25, 26*, 28; August 1, 5, 7, 9
Evenings at 8:00 pm: July 18, 24, 30
* Opera Bus available
Performed in English.
Running time: 2 hours and 25 minutes with one 20-minute intermission 

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