Man of La Mancha at Marriott Theatre

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Book by Dale WassermanManofLaManchaMarriott

Music by Mitch Leigh

Lyrics by Joe Darion

Directed Nick Bowling

Music Direction by Ryan T. Nelson

At Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire

“To dream the impossible dream. . .to reach the unreachable stars. . .to fight for what’s right without question or pause. That is my quest” -Don Quixote

I have seen several worthy productions of Man of La Mancha including the fabulous 2005 Court Theatre production and the worthy 2012 Light Opera Works. I even liked the 2009 Theo Ubique production that starred Danielle Brothers as Don Quixote! But the brilliant Marriott Theatre production, now playing in Lincolnshire, under the brilliant direction of Nick Bowling is  raw, earthy, and well performed production. Bowling’s fresh take on this classic works on many levels. As a 95 minute one act; with a set of terrific actors who can also sing; and with casting against type, Bowling’s Man of La Mancha is a major artistic success! It’s emotional core is so truthful that our empathy is deeply felt and the glowing message reaches into our being. This is the finest production that I have ever witnessed of Man of La Mancha!

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The play is set during the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th Century and tells the story of Cervantes, the first modern novelist, as he is imprisoned by the Inquisition for trying to levy taxes on a church. Forced to ‘plead’ his case with his cellmates, Man of La Mancha turns into a play-within-a-play where he tells on Quixote’s story as his defense. The result is a journey from the realm of reality into fantasy. Is he mad or just the purest idealist? We follow Quixote’s noble quest as the knight sets out to right all wrongs and win the heart of a good woman as he duels windmills among other odysseys. This classic comic-tragedy musical is a moving illustration of themes of honor, nobility of spirit, chivalry, grace, courage, and idealism. Quixote inspiring humanity over powers us.

The dignified gentleman, Miguel de Cervantes, played with honest and genius charm by Nathaniel Stampley, gradually yet unflinchingly wins the souls of his cellmates as he effectively weaves the story of Don Quixote. From Stampley’s powerful opening number “I, Don Quixote” we know we’re on an amazing journey. When Stampley nails the memorable anthem “The Quest (The Impossible Dream),” the show penetrates directly into our hearts.

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Richard Ruiz, as the Manservant Sancho Panza, is lovable, loyal, and trustworthy. Ruiz charms us with “I Really Like Him,” displaying terrific pipes and winning comedic style. Besides Stampley’s aweome performance, Danni Smith as Aldonza was fabulous. Smith combines a raw sensuality with a vulnerability to be an impressive Aldonza. She sang “What Does He Want from Me?” and “Aldonza” with pure emotion in her powerful voice. She commands the stage most effectively. Danni Smith is quickly emerging as one of the finest leading ladies in Chicago musical theatre.

Nick Bowling’s cast includes James Harms as the padre who lands “To Each his Dulcinea” while Crain Spidle keeps the ‘trial’ going smoothly. The ensemble is effective and Ryan Bourque’s fight choreography was amazing. Music director Ryan T. Nelson made Mitch Leigh’s haunting score anchor the production.
Get to Lincolnshire to experience a fresh, raw and most moving production of the 1986 classic musical -Man of La Mancha

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Date Reviewed: June 29, 2016

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Man of La Mancha page at theatreinchicago.com

At Marriott Theatre, Rt 45 & Rt 21 in Lincolnshire, IL, call847-634-0200, www.marriotttheatre.com, tickets $50 -$55, Wednesdays at 1 & 8 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4:30 & 8pm, Sundays at 1 & 5pm, running time is 95 minutes without an intermission, through August 14, 2016

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