Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Man of La Mancha

There is a great thing about having a friend that is semi-involved in community theatre.... sometimes you can see shows for free by doing something cool, like ushering a show. That was the case with this show. I ushered, they let me stay and watch the show. No one knew I was going to blog about it. No one asked me to blog about it, but I did not pay for a ticket. (This is my disclaimer for this show, now on with the review!)

Man of LaMancha. What can I say about this show. When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher made us watch Don Quixote. At the time, I thought the movie was pretty cool. So when I figured out that Man of LaMancha was a musical version, I was all up for seeing it. The book is by Dale Wasserman and the music and lyrics by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion, respectively.

The town I went to college in, and that my best friend still lives in, has a very active theatre world. There is the theatre at the university and two separate theatres that have community type productions. This particular production was put on at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center.

I have good things to say about almost every production, but you also have to understand the difference in a professional production and a community theatre production. This musical was definitely a community theatre production. That aside, it was a pretty darn good community theatre production.

The costumes were pretty fantastic, in my opinion. Especially the costumes of the donkeys (amazing!!), Aldonza/Dulcinea, and Don Quixote, himself. My favorite was probably the prop piece that became Don Quixote's sword after he charged the windmill.

The star of the show, and the most talented person on that entire stage, was Rick Woods, who played the parts of Miguel De Cervantes, Alonso Quijana and Don Quixote. He was absolutely amazing. His rendition of "The Impossible Dream" gave me chills, flat out. Another standout, vocally, was Antonia (Alonso's niece), played by Ashley Francis. Her voice was fantastic.

The story itself is the best part. It's really a page out of Shakespeare's book, as it's a play within a play (and almost again, within another play). Miguel De Cervantes and his servant have been arrested during the Spanish Inquisition and are thrown in prison. Their fellow prisoners have plans to put them on their own Prisoner's Trial. To defend himself, Miguel De Cervantes begins to weave the story of Don Quixote, a crazed man who always sees the best in people and the positive side of things. But it turns out that Don Quixote is just Alonso Quijana, a crazed man who thinks he's Don Quixote.

Along the way, Don Quixote meets a hilarious cast of characters that partially fight his insanity, and partially play along with it. The songs in the show are pretty amazing, but my favorites are (of course) "The Impossible Dream" and "Dulcinea."

There are a few more times to see this show. It plays through July 23rd. If you are a fan of community theatre you will probably enjoy this show.


  1. "...but you also have to understand the difference in a professional production and a community theatre production. This musical was definitely a community theatre production."

    I am curious as to what you meant by this statement. If the implication is that actors and most of the technical crew are not paid in community theatre productions you are correct. If you are referring to the quality of this production, from the set design, light design, orchestra, actors, tech crew, SFX, props, pre-show announcements and overall environment in CPAC's "Man of La Mancha" I must respectfully disagree.
    Theatre is theatre. There are professional productions and non-professional productions and it has nothing to do with a paycheck, actors equity, a name or location.

  2. I do agree that theatre is theatre, no matter if it is a community production or a professional production. You are right about the paycheck and all. But, while this rule is not set in stone, I have found that the quality of a production is often higher when it is a professional production. Mostly because of the avalibility of talent for the show(I will say I have seen some HORRIBLE professional productions, so this rule does not always apply). That aside, if I were to give my opinion of a show without taking into consideration if they are paid professionals or not, I would be doing a disservice to some amazing community productions. While the talent may be there, it isn't always of the caliber that one might expect of a professional production and I would be unkind to say that they were not good, when in fact they were great considering they don't do this job for a living and have done very well for what they have.
    You don't compare high school football and professional football. It isn't fair to either set of players. The same goes for non-professional and professional people working in the theatre.

  3. I understand what you are saying and not just cause you're my friend but because I was pobably harsher on it than you were. I enjoyed it as a community theatre project and seeing the effort that the cast put into it, to put it on...and knowing it was what it was, I can appreciate it for that...if I had gone in expecting TPAC, or even CCP I would have been taken aback. But I was excited to see a mainstage poduction in Cookeville and a musical at that, and to see the effort that Cookeville is putting into the arts in the community...which is EXACTLY what you just said...and dont worry, if people are looking fo it they will get "bothered" by anything short of "It was perfect in every way and they all deserve DRAMA STARS RIGHT NOW!!!!"