‘Man of La Mancha’ impresses at Maggie’s Little Theatre

‘Man of La Mancha’ impresses at Maggie’s Little Theatre
Photo by Annmarie Gillespie
By Merle Exit

Dreaming the impossible dream came true when a perfect show became a Broadway-quality reality for Maggie’s Little Theatre.

Sunday’s performance of “Man of La Mancha” was by far one of the best I have ever seen when it comes to community theatre. It couldn’t have been better for me, but audiences still have another weekend to experience the triumph.

Stage Director Bill Logan and Musical Director Paul L. Johnson led the production, with music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion and book by Dale Wasserman.

The plot centers on aging Miguel de Cervantes, a failure in his varied careers as playwright, poet and tax collector, as he enters a dungeon in Seville awaiting trial by the Spanish Inquisition. He is with his servant and accused of an offense against the Church. A mock trial will decide if he is guilty and, if so, he will lose his possessions, including a manuscript. His offense is offered in the form of a play, as he transforms himself from Cervantes to Don Quixote de La Mancha. In doing so, each of the cast has two roles, one as the prisoner, the other as a character in his play.

Quixote (Mark Dunn) and his “squire,” Sancho Panza (Joe Paciullo), are set out to restore the age of chivalry, battle evil, and right all wrongs. Quixote perceives a windmill for a four-armed giant, losing the battle with his sword. He decides that he must properly be dubbed a knight, blaming his shortcomings on his enemy, the Dark Enchanter.

A roadside inn is now perceived as a castle, in which the male patrons are harassing Aldonza (Jenna Kantor), the inn’s serving girl and part-time prostitute. Quixote sees Aldonza, believing her to be the Lady Dulcinea, to whom he has sworn eternal loyalty. Aldonza, who is accustomed to cruelty, is both confused and angered by Quixote’s refusal to perceive her as she really is.

Meanwhile, Quixote’s niece, Antonia (Julian Smith), seeks advice from the local priest (David Friedman) singing, “I’m Only Thinking of Him.” Antonia’s fiancé, Dr. Carrasco (Rich Feldman), sets out to end this embarrassment by bringing Quixote back home.

Back at the inn, Aldonza asks Sancho why he follows Quixote, and he explains, “I Really Like Him.” Alone, Aldonza ponders Quixote’s behavior. In the courtyard, the men once again taunt her with a suggestive song “Little Bird, Little Bird.”

Quixote snatches the basin, believing it to be the “Golden Helmet of Mambrino,” which will make him invulnerable. The priest wonders whether the Quixote really needs curing.

Quixote asks the innkeeper to dub him a knight and the innkeeper agrees. Aldonza, on her way to meet Pedro, encounters Quixote in the courtyard, questioning him on his unfounded ways. This is where we first hear Quixote sing “The Impossible Dream.”

In the end, the Inquisition enters to take Cervantes to his trial as the prisoners find him not guilty and return the manuscript. As Cervantes and his servant climb the staircase to go to their trial, the prisoners, led by the woman who portrays Dulcinea, sing “The Impossible Dream.”

Dunn and Kantor stand out the most with their great acting and outstanding vocals. Each member of the cast gave such professional performances.

Johnson’s musical direction hit the tops on this one by providing a variety of musicians that include: piano, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, French horn, trombone, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. Volume did not interfere with hearing the cast’s voices.

Kudos also has to go to the direction of Bill Logan.

“Man of La Mancha” will continue its run at Maggie’s Little Theatre — located at 66-05 79th Place in Middle Village — with two shows planned for this weekend. Tickets are available for Friday’s show at 8 p.m. and Saturday’s 8 p.m.

For tickets call (917) 579-5389.