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18 June 2009

Man of La Mancha

From the Citizen-Times

Check out ‘Man of La Mancha'
Flat Rock actors present classic with great zest

“Magnificent” is the word brought to mind by Flat Rock Playhouse's “Man of La Mancha,” the timeless story of the 17th- century “mad knight” who jousts with windmills and pursues the impossible dream.

A play within a play, “La Mancha” tells the story of Spanish tax collector Miguel de Cervantes, who with his assistant Sancho is thrown into prison to await the judgment of the Inquisition for daring to tax a monastery.

To escape harsh treatment from fellow prisoners, Cervantes seeks to amuse them by acting out a story he has written. It tells the tale of a delusional old man who proclaims himself Don Quixote, a knight-errant who seeks to right all wrongs.

David Lutken gives an unforgettable performance as Don Quixote, whose grandiose self-deception has no limits. Not only does he imagine himself a knight 300 years after the age of knights, but he declares the lowly harlot Aldonza to be instead the high-born lady Dulcinea, the epitome of innocence and grace.

Ariela Morgenstern is delightful as saucy wench Aldonza. She jeers at Don Quixote's doting attention to her as the fair Dulcinea but slowly begins to believe she can have a better life.

Patric John Morgan gives a touching performance as Sancho, who follows Don Quixote's madcap fantasies wherever they lead, proclaiming, “I really like him.” The delusion reaches manic proportions when Don Quixote declares the brass shaving basin carried by the barber (Scott Treadway) is really the “golden helmet of Mandrino.”

Of course, noble ambitions inevitably draw opposition. Don Quixote is obsessed with an archenemy he calls “the Enchanter,” but his greatest nemesis is scheming Dr. Carrasco (Damian Duke Domingue), who seeks to shatter his grand illusions with the searing truth of reality.

“Man of La Mancha” focuses on the age-old dichotomy between man's sometimes soaring aspirations (“The Impossible Dream”) and his much baser achievement, whether it is better to reach for the unattainable or settle for what is easy and obvious.

With book by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, it tells of Don Quixote's quest in some of the best-loved music of the American theater. To deliver the full sound required for this production, Flat Rock has assembled the largest music contingent in the theater's history, including some outstanding Hendersonville High School band members.

Director Paige Posey and a strong cast of veteran Flat Rock actors and some talented newcomers deliver a show that is among the best in recent memory. If you plan to see only one show at the Rock this summer, make this the one.

Tim Reid reviews theater for Take5. Contact him at timreid4@charter.net.


Aaron said...

A review of Parkway's "Esley" is here:

Anonymous said...

Are we to assume this blog is no longer in operation?