Man of La Mancha
Audiences have been thrilled and delighted with the antics of Don Quixote and his buddy, Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha since its opening in 1965. the same thrills, the same excitement, the same enjoyment can be yours, one more time, when you go to see this fabulous production at A Noise Within in Glendale.
Our man is played by Geoff Elliott, the co-founder of this theater; his lovely wife, Julia-Rodriguez Elliot is directing. Yes, the stage is much smaller; yes, the sets are fewer and more sparse; yes, the actors creep about inches from the audience–but this polished, clever, innovative and thoroughly enchanting performance will engage you every moment of its 105 minutes. Unlike the Broadway production, this is played with no intermission. Here, your imagination is joyfully requested as Cervantes enters his cell and meets his fellow political prisoners during those trying times of the Inquisition. Here, you are asked to suspend all those memories of other productions of this play as seen in larger theaters to help create the mood, images and suspense of the story this cast of seventeen stalwarts will perform. Here, David O’s music will be revised and performed on piano and Kevin Tiernan’s guitar and drums-no grand orchestra. But here, also, will be a distillation of Dale Wasserman’s essence of character and story, Mitch Leigh’s wonderful music and Joe Darlon’s magnificent lyrics-all done simply, astutely, poignantly.
The cast is terrific: Allan Blumenfeld’s portrayal of Sancho Panza captures the essence of Quixote’s manservant who really likes his master; Nadia Ahern’s Aldonza does everything right in becoming Dulcinea; Gregory Franklin’s Padre comes across believably as he sings the beautiful “To Each His Dulcinea”. But it is Geoff Elliott’s mellifluous speaking and singing voice which hearkens us back to the original Don, Richard Kiley, and reminds all of us how imagination, hope and impossible dreams can take us forward from darkness to light, despair to hope, and death to life.
Further, the entrances, exits and on-stage performances are masterfully directed by Ms. Elliott with care and precision. There isn’t a wasted moment here as sets are altered in seconds, places are taken and the shuffling about of so many people is done effortlessly and creatively.
Credit Soojin Lee with some of the most beautiful shmatas (rags) ever seen on any stage; Ken Booth with intelligent lighting that couldn’t have been too easy to execute, and Ken Merckx with the choreography for a few rousing fight scenes which were performed quite realistically. All this as well as such great lines by Wasserman as: “A knight without a lady is like a body without a soul”; “Facts are the enemy of truth”; “Being charged with being an idealist is the worst part of an honest man!”
Come prepared to enjoy yourself thoroughly. Come prepared to let your imagination soar, along with the actors; come with the children so that they may experience this wondrous treat. This gift of the Elliott’s will be here through May.
Man of La Mancha – A Noise Within, 234 So. Brand Boulevard, Glendale CA 91204
Tel. 818-240-0910, Ext. 1; Tickets Friday, Saturday eves, Sunday matinees: $38; Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday eves, Saturday Matinees: $34; Performed Sat. April 7 @ 2 and 8 p.m.;
Sunday, April 8 @ 2 p.m.; Friday, May 4 @ 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 5 @ 8 p.m.; Sunday May 13 @ 2 and 7 p.m.; Wednesday May 16 @ 8 p.m.; Thursday May 17 @ 8 p.m.; Saturday May 26 @ 8 p.m.; Sunday May 27 @ 2 and 7 p.m.