Author Archive for: ‘KedarAdour’

Man of La Mancha is given a persuasive production by Custom Made.

(l-r) Anthony Aranda as Innkeeper, Rachael Richman as Aldonza, Edward Hightower as Quixote and Dave Leon as Sancho in Man of La Mancha at Custom Made Theatre with “Knight of the Woeful Countenance” number.

Man of La Mancha: Musical by Dale Wasserman. Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion. Directed by Brian Katz. Custom Made Theatre, 533 Sutter St. (at Powell) in San Francisco, CA. . (415) 798-2682 or  January 14 -February17, 2018.

Man of La Mancha is given a persuasive production by Custom Made. Rating: ★★★★☆

There have been many adaptations of Miguel de Cervantes’ picaresque novel El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (“The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha,” known as Don Quixote). A recent adaptation was Octavio Solis’ “Don Quixote” with its world premiere in 2009 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  The musical adaptation being mounted at Custom Made Theatre had its Broadway premiere in 1964 and is still making the rounds in community venues and its songs still inspire.

“The story is primarily a defense of idealism and examines reality versus man’s ability to rise above adversity as exemplified by “The Impossible Dream.” These concepts should be truisms and therefore they should be as cogent in any age.”

Various directors have placed their stamp on their staging. The S.F. Playhouse in 2007 under Jon Tracy’s hand set the action in 2064 post-apocalyptic year and had an on stage band. Brian Katz and crew’s personal stamp is the recent popular directorial conceit of having the actors play musical instruments as they move in and out of story line. Despite this musical conceit that at times is intrusive, our tragic-hero remains intact as our “knight for right” who leaves his home with the loyal side-kick Sancho Panza searching for “The Impossible Dream.”

It is a play within a play, performed by Miguel de Cervantes and his fellow prisoners in a dungeon as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. The original time is the late sixteenth century. Cervantes has been thrown into a dungeon along with his manservant Sancho. They have brought all their possessions with them in a trunk. Fellow prisoners attack them and threaten to burn Cervantes’ precious manuscript. He begs to offer a defense to protect his manuscript with a play acted out by him and all the prisoners. Cervantes and Sancho reach into the trunk, extract and distribute costumes as Cervantes dons a helmet, moustache and beard becoming Don Quixote, eventually “knight of the woeful countenance.” Within the play Don Quixote sees the kitchen wench Aldonza whom he believes to be the “lady Dulcinea”, as he swears eternal loyalty with the plaintiff song “Dulcinea.” Conflict arrives in the form of three muleteers who eventually kidnap and rape her.

In this production the difficult staging with the 13 cast members often on stage together is handled adroitly by director Katz. Each eclectic member of the cast perform admirably with Edward Hightower giving a perfect portrayal of Cervantes/Quixote even though his singing voice does not have the full timbre required of his songs (“I Don Quixote”, “Dulcinea”, “ Golden Helmut of Mambrino” and “The Impossible Dream”).  Rachael Richman brings power and sadness to the role of Aldozna first with “It’s All the Same” and then “Aldonza”.  Dave Leon’s comic timing needs honing as Sancho Panza during his turn on center stage with “The Missive”, “I Really Like Him” and “A Little Gossip.” His brief notes on the tuba like Euphonium actually are distractions that are meant to add humor.

The rugged muleteers (Paul Hogarth, Jack O’Rielly,  Mucurio Suarez) give a charming against character rendition of “Little Bird, Little Bird” becoming a powerful/frightening force for “The Abuction.” Anthony Aranda as the Innkeeper has the right touch of humor and sympathy for his turn with Hightower for the playing out of “Knight of the Woeful Countenance.” The musicians add a layer of interest without intruding on the action and James Grady playing the Spanish Guitar throughout the evening is a touch of genius.

The scenic design (Daniel Bilodeau) captures the darkness and isolation of the Inquisition dungeon and is greatly aided by the lighting (Max Kurunski), sound effects (James Goode) and costumes (Lindsey Eifert).  Running time is about 2 hours and 15 minutes including the intermission. 

CAST: Anthony Aranda , Governor/Percussion; Kimberley Cohan, Ensemble/Flute; James Grady, Spanish Guitar; Edward Hightower, Cervantes/Quixote; Paul Hogarth, Ensemble/Melodica; Emily Jeanes, Ensemble/Viola; Dave Leon, Sancho/Euphonium; Jenny Matteucci, Ensemble/Maria; Emma Onasch, Ensemble/Antonia; Jack O’Reilly, Ensemble/Padre; Rachael Richman, Aldozna; Shelby Stewart, Ensemble/Barber; Mauricio Suarez, Ensemble/Duke. 

CREATIVE STAFF: Brian Katz – Director; Mark Dietrich – Musical Director; Brian Allan Hobbs – Arrangements; Leah S. Abrams – Associate Director; Lindsey Eifert- Costume Design; Maxx Kurzunski – Lighting Design; Daniel Bilodeau – Scenic Design; Tom O’Brien – Props Design; James Goode – Sound Design; Nikki Meñez – Movement; Kalon Thibodeaux – Stage Manager; Genevieve Pabon – Asst Stage Manager

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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