I was so fortunate to attend Stratford’s Man of La Mancha on Sunday, June 29th with my whole family this time! It is so much fun for me and my family to share our love of Stratford and musicals with the rest of our family. Everyone loved the show and talked about it long into the ride home. Man of La Mancha is definitely geared to a more adult audience than Alice or Crazy for You, so while I highly recommend this play, it is not one for the little ones in your life.
I’m going to try not to use too many spoilers, but I figure this musical is well known enough that I can talk about the plot without it ruining too much for anyone.
Man of La Mancha is a beautiful, powerful, emotional musical that I simply couldn`t get enough of. At intermission, I was disappointed, because I knew the show was already half over. The story itself is engrossing and enchanting, carrying the audience away into the beautiful mind of Don Miguel de Cervantes, and his legendary character Don Quixote de La Mancha. I loved the frame narrative of Cervantes in jail during the inquisition, and how he is able to almost transform his fellow inmates through his story, just as Don Quixote is able to change Aldonza into Dulcinea by allowing these other people into the worlds of their imagination.
The songs in this musical are so anthemic and inspirational and beautiful. It is a very 60’s musical, without a definite overture and with very powerful songs. It reminded me of Fiddler on the Roof in this was. This production was so wonderful. The songs were played beautifully by the band and sung incredibly by the actors. I was blown away at how beautiful the singing was, especially the leads Tom Rooney, Robin Hutton and Steve Ross. But really, the whole cast sang beautifully; I wish they could make a cast recording of this show as well!
The sets and costumes for this play were out of this world. I love that they didn’t try to hide the set, they just let us take it all in and visually explore the space, which I really enjoyed. There was so much to take in and to watch even before the play began. As soon as those actors appeared, they brought that beautiful set to life, and kept it alive until that last note was sung. It was a visual feast, with an ever changing sky and windmill arms, many nooks and crannies for the actors to use and explore, and an overall grunginess that sealed the feel of a Spanish jail. The contrast between the Conquistadors and the prisoners was stark: the inquisitors dressed in gleaming armour and helmets and yet there is Don Quixote wearing worn armor and a shaving dish as a helmet.
The actors were just superb. I was so thrilled with everyone in the play. I know I often say that I can’t find a weak link in these shows, but that is just the calibre of theatre that is produced at Stratford and I’ve learned to expect nothing less. As I previously mentioned, the 3 leads were impeccable. Tom Rooney was an entrancing Cervantes/Don Quixote. Robin Hutton’s Aldonza was rough but beautiful, just perfect to become the inherently regal Dulcinea. Steve Ross’ Sancho was loveable and so loyal, you can’t help but adore him. The rest of the cast should not go without mention; everyone was wonderful, and they all sang so beautifully. When they all get together and sing “The Impossible Dream” at the end of the play, it gave me goose bumps and made me tear up; their voices blended so well together and the song is so powerful, that to have so many people singing it was overwhelming in the absolute best of ways.
I really can’t say enough good things about this play. As usual, I must urge you to see this play, it will be an experience you shall not soon forget, I can promise you that!
If you’d like to purchase tickets, here is the link to do so! : http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/OnStage/productions.aspx?id=24353&prodid=52399