QUIXOTE NUEVO: Musical by Octavio Solis. Adapted from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Directed by KJ Sanchez. California Shakespeare Theater, Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda. 510-548-9666 or www.calshakes.org. JUNE 13-JULY 1, 2018
QUIXOTE NUEVO replaces Wind Mills with the Border Wall. Rating:
On a chilly night at the Bruns Amphitheater California Shakespeare Company (Cal Shakes) started their 44th season with another and brilliant version of the Quixote legend by the talented Octavio Solis. In 2009 Solis was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare festival to write a Quixote play and it was produced at their open-air Elizabethan Theatre with a running time of three hours. That production was populated with marvelous puppets and was set in Cervantes’ era. For Quixote Nuevo he has set the story in the fictional border town of La Mancha, Texas, the time is ‘today’ and the puppets are replaced with real live characters creating a vivid, thoughtful performance laced with perspicuous humor.
As former professor of literature our soon to be Don Quixote has fashioned an imaginary world from his readings and often lectured on himself truly believing he is the chivalrous Don Quixote (Emilio Delgado) destined to right the wrongs of his world. This he will do with his trusty steed (a tricycle) with Squire Sancho (Juan Amador), the town paletero ( ice cream vendor). Sancho has his own tricycle with the picture of a burrow painted on its side. He reluctantly looks forward to sharing marvelous adventures. Sadly, Sancho concludes after their many escapades, “Our Adventures have all been misadventures.”
Solis’ Quixote is an old man on the verge of dementia and has been looked after by his sister Magdalena (Michele Aprina Leavy) and her daughter Antonio (Gianna DiGregorio Rivera). They, with concurrence of Padre Perez (Sol Costillo), are getting ready to ship him off to a nursing home and burning his books. This is not to be as he escapes, collects Sancho and begins his quest. Along with righting wrongs Quixote is searching for his lost love, the beautiful Dulcinea (Sarita Ocon) who only exists in his mind.
Solis has created a Papa Calacas (a humanized version of death) to ride along on the quest. This calacas (Hugo E. Carbajal) dressed in a fascinating costume, as are the entire ensemble, (Ulises Alcala) is musically inclined and David Molina has written original music for him as well as musical interludes for the ensemble.
In this modern version of the Quixote legend Solis has outlined the quest as justice for “for the unemployed, the uninsured, and the undocumented.” Quixote’s ‘armor’ consists of battered trash can cover and a bed pan helmet “bought at a lawn sale.” He battles drones as he approaches the infamous border wall of the trump era. Although humor filters throughout the evening Solis has written one devastating scene of a battered survivor wandering alone across the desert after his companions have died along the way.
Throughout the play you will recognize many of the escapades gleaned from the novel and be amazed at clever writing and acting. Emilio Delgado is brilliant in the role of Quixote. He is best known for his long-running role as Luis on Sesame Street. Juan Amador is not only a worthy sounding board for Quixote’s ramblings he also creates a Sancho you will long remember.
The ensemble are amazing as they switch characters, dance, create sounds including the baaing of sheep and moving through the aisles drawing the audience into their world. This is a must see production with running time two hours and 15 minutes with an intermission.
CAST: Bruno, ensemble—Carlos Aguirre; Sancho, ensemble—Juan Amado; Papa Calacas, ensemble—Hugo E Carbajal; Quixote—Emilio Delgado; Antonia, ensemble—Gianna Di Gregorio Rivera; Magdalena, ensemble—Michele Apriña Leavy; Juana, ensemble—Amy Lizardo; Dulcinea, ensemble—Sarita Ocón; Padre Perez, ensemble—Sol Castillo.
CREATIVE TEAM: Playwright—Octavio Solis; Director—KJ Sanchez; Scenic Designer—Annie Smart; Costume Designer—Ulises Alcala; Lighting Designer—Wen-Ling Liao; Composer/Music Director & Sound Designer—David R Molina; Composer/Music Director—Eduardo Robledo; Dramaturg—Sonia Fernandez; Casting Consultant—Dena Martinez; Fight Director—Dave Maier; Stage Manager—Cheryle Honorlah; Assistant Stage Manager—Sara Sparks.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.