Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Man of La Mancha

Book by Dale WassermanLA MANCHALogo

Music by Mitch Leigh

Lyrics by Joe Darion

Directed by William Pullinsi

Musical Direction by William A. Underwood

Choreographed by Stacey Flaster

At Theatre at the Center

Pleasant production of Man of La Mancha

“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

Not since CandleLight Dinner Playhouse did La Mancha in the 1970’s with Lee Pelty in the lead have I seen a classic version this chestnut. Man of La Mancha ran 2328 performances on Broadway starting in 1965 won 5 Tony’s including best musical and is now considered a classic. Several remounts have proved the staying power of this material. Bill Pullinsi’s current production features Jim Harms as Don Quixote, David Perkovich as Sancho and Ericka Mac as Aldonza (Dulcinea). Each had their moments to shine in this workable production.

James Harms
James Harms

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.

MAN OF LA MANCHA- Ericka Mac & male prisoners

The dignified older gentleman, Miguel de Cervantes, played with innocent charm by Jim Harms gradually yet unflinchingly wins the souls of his cellmates as he deliciously weaves the story of Don Quixote. From Harm’s stirring opening number “I, Don Quixote” we know we’re on a fascinating journey.  When Jim Harms belts the memorable anthem “The Quest (The Impossible Dream),” the show reaches a memorable moment of truth.

David Perkovich, as the Manservant Sancho Panza, had the right elements of humor, loyalty and trust to be effective. Perkovich nails “I Really Like Him” deftly displaying a fine voice and winning comedic style. Ericka Mac was effective as Aldonza. She belted “What Does He Want from Me?” and “Aldonza” with pure emotion in a raspy voice.

The production suffers from poor sound quality as the orchestra sounded tiny. Also the use of a spot light a beat before a song became a distraction. The staging and the ensemble worked hard to create the proper atmosphere. While not one of my favorite shows, Man of La Mancha is a romantic journey filled with noble acts set to several stirring anthems with a load of sentimentality and heart. Who couldn’t cheer for underdog as he fights against all odds? Personal integrity is nicely presented in Jim Harms’ winning performance. He belts “The Impossible Dream” with an emotional impact that sent chills down my spine.  Theatre at the Center has another classic for you.


Tom Williams

At the Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, ticket $36 – $40,  call 219-836-3255, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, select Thursdays at 7:30 pm & Saturdays at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.

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