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Man of La Mancha – Sir Don Quixote and fighting windmills  

At Central City Opera through August 9th

By Aaron Storms

Central City Opera continues its 2015 Summer Festival with the opening of the Tony award-winning musical Man of La Mancha in the intimate and historic 550-seat Central City Opera House.
With music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion and book by Dale Wasserman, Man of La Mancha is presented as a play within a play. The lead character of Don Miguel de Cervantes (Robert Orth) awaits his trial by the Spanish Inquisition for his actions as a part-time tax collector and actions of foreclosing on the church – apparently frowned upon by the Inquisition. While waiting for his trial, he was forced to defend himself from the other prisoners and their own inmate trial by acting out a story for and with the help of his fellow prisoners.

He becomes Don Quixote, a fanciful (crazy) knight on a quest to rid the world of his mortal enemy, the windmill monsters. Along his quest, Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza (Keith Jameson) face many obstacles. Quixote also pledges his adoration and fights for the honor of Aldonza (Lucy Schaufer), the waitress woman he adores from the men who want to use her, and to achieve his knighthood. The audience had already got the point that Aldonza had a low self-esteem and seemed resigned to having sex with the inn patrons on a regular basis, but when Quixote came along and showed her it didn’t have to be that way, and even fought for her honor, in my opinion I thought the ensuing rape scene depicting her sliding back into life as usual was unnecessary.

His money-grubbing family comes to “rescue” him and makes him think it was all a dream in order to take him home so he can sign over his estate at his deathbed. But he is visited by Aldonza and sees that his actions had a positive effect on her to change her self-image and way of life. He once again becomes Sir Don Quixote and is ready to return to the battlefield to fight more virtual windmills! So you can dream of impossible things, and change who you are and what you believe in, which was also his defense to his inmate trial.

The signature song, “The Impossible Dream” embodies the quest to stay true to one’s ideals in the face of all odds. While it’s an uplifting story overall, Man of La Mancha does include violence, specifically sexual violence, which is why this Central City Opera production is rated PG-13.

A longtime favorite of opera and Broadway audiences, Director Paul Curran speaks to its enduring popularity. “Man of La Mancha ultimately asks of us a very big question. Who are we as human beings? What do we believe in? Is that dream really so impossible?” notes Curran.
Man of La Mancha Performing Artists
Returning to the stage are critically-acclaimed principal artists from recent years including those from last summer’s The Sound of Music: Robert Orth and Lucy Schaufer. Orth and Schaufer provided an outstanding performance with both humor and seriousness when appropriate, as well as the entire cast. We loved the horse impersonations!
Mezzo-Soprano Lucy Schaufer is Aldonza in this production, and Central City Opera audiences last saw her as Elsa Schraeder in 2014’s The Sound of Music.
As Sancho Panza, Keith Jameson makes his Central City Opera debut, and played the perfect assistant and squire.

Debuting artist Adelmo Guidarelli is featured as the friendly Innkeeper with the not-so-friendly wife.
Man of La Mancha plays through August 9 and is performed in English. Ticket prices range from $31 to $108; based on availability. For complete information on the entire 2015 Festival, visit www.centralcityopera.org. Performance dates at the Central City Opera House:

Matinees at 2:30 pm: July 25, 26, 28; August 1, 5, 7, 9.
Evenings at 8:00 pm: July 24, 30.

Man of La Mancha Production Team
Paul Curran returns as Stage Director, and Court Watson makes his Central City Opera debut as Scenic and Costume Designer. The Company also welcomes back Adam Turner as the Conductor and Chorus Master. Festival Resident Lighting Designer David Martin Jacques returns for his 15th festival to light Man of La Mancha, along with 2015 Wig and Makeup Designer/Supervisor, Dave Bova.

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