BWW Reviews: The Arvada Center Presents a True Masterpiece with MAN OF LA MANCHA
The Arvada Center presents the award winning musical, MAN of La MANCHA running now through April 14th. Written by Dale Wasserman with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, MAN of La MANCHA is long considered one of the most beloved musicals of all time and the winner of five Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Musical Score. Set during the Spanish Inquisition the musical tells the story of the author and actor, Miguel de Cervantes who has been thrown in prison for crimes he did not commit. His fellow prisoners decide to hold a mock trial by jury where a guilty charge will result in seizure and destruction of his life's work. Cervantes decides his defense will be to act out a play incorporating the other prisoners. His creation, Don Quixote de la Mancha recounts the tale of the mad knight who believes the wrongs of the world can be corrected as he travels the countryside with his sidekick Sancho jousting windmills and pursuing the heart of his beloved Dulcinea. MAN of La MANCHA features many memorable songs including the iconic "To Dream the Impossible Dream."
Have you ever seen a movie where every aspect from the set, to the music, to the superb acting collaborated into one work of art and you leave the theater with a sense of elation, catharsis, and complete satisfaction (my personal favorite is Clint Eastwood's classic, Million Dollar Baby)? The talented cast and crew of the Arvada Center were able to achieve this with their masterful production of MAN of La MANCHA. I was truly amazing how every aspect of this show came together in glorious harmony. The perfect compliment to this was that I have heard The Impossible Dream sung by many soloists in my life, but once you experience it in the context of the show, I can confidently say that this is one of the greatest songs in musical theatre history. The same can be said for Dulcinea being one of the greatest love songs in musical theatre history. Whether this is a show about the elderly, a borEd Royalty with an active imagination, or a loved one with Alzheimer's (which is what I have always thought this show eluded to), this musical really has stood the test of time and I was so excited to see it back of stage again.
William Michals was outstanding in the lead role of Don Quixote. He showed great contrast from the eccentric knight, to elderly gent and the imprisoned playwright. His gorgeous baritone and dynamic character owned this show and he made Dulcinea and The Impossible Dream his own. Sancho Ben Dicke was perfect in his comedic timing and interpretation of Sancho. His whimsical portrayal captured the audiences hearts and his brassy tenor complimented William's voice wonderfully. He was just adorable in I Really Like Him. Jennifer DeDominici was a tour de force as the feisty Aldonza and her voice was so powerful and gorgeous, especially in What Does He Want of Me. While the entire ensemble had fantastic voices, it was Jeremy Sorote as the Padre that really stood out and made the audience take notice. He was just superb in To Each His Dulcinea. I must also commend the ensemble for being engaged throughout the entire show and not distracting from the main action on the stage.
This is a crowning achievement for director Rod Lansberry and musical director David Nehls. He picked a fantastic ensemble with superb voices and pushed the technical crew to give us that wow factor that impressed and amazed the audience. I also have to applaud him on his wonderful blocking that was carefully thought out and I especially loved the staging for the reprise of the final Impossible Dream. Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck gave us some fantastic choreography especially in Act Two.The dark and dusky Spanish gallows is just another example of the genius that is Brian Mallgrave. I was so impressed that I have to get inside that head of his; so look for an interview with this gifted artists coming soon! I loved how he integrated the musical instruments and props into the set and the suspended stairs and gates were also a nice touch. The lighting by designer Shannon McKinney gave a haunting allure to the set and the sound by designer David Thomas was blended perfectly between singer and instrument. I adored the dingy peasant costumes and so many costume enhancements for the "play" that were brought to you by the talented designer, Chris Campbell. The Knight of the Mirrors was over the top and superb. I also wanted to point out the talents of wig and makeup designer Lisa Rokicki who had quite an undertaking with so many cast members. She was able to give each member their own style and character while bringing the ensemble together as a whole.
I am proud to say that this is the Arvada Center's finest production to date. See this instant masterful classic and get swept away in the story. MAN of La MANCHA soars high at the Arvada Center now through April 14th on the Main Stage Theater. Performances are Tuesday - Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 1p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. The show will be ASL Interpreted for the hearing impaired on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact the box office online at www.arvadacenter.org or by calling 720-898-7200.
PHOTO CREDIT: P. Switzer
Jennifer DeDominici (Aldonza) and William Michals (Don Quixote)
The cast of MAN of La MANCHA
William Michals as Don Quixote
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