BWW Reviews: CM PAC's MAN OF LAMANCHA - It's Not Always What It Seems
The Tony winning musical, Man Of LaMancha, is truly a force to be reckoned with. Now playing at Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center (CM PAC) on Long Island, Director Noel Ruiz, the cast, and creative team are certainly up for the challenge. This production features an amazing cast, wonderful set, and, of course, a beautiful and classic score.
Leading the cast, Edward A. Brennan made a wonderful Cervantes/Don Quixote. The complexity and Mr. Brennan's delivery of role really drew the audience in. Set in the 1500's, Cervantes is arrested by the Spanish Inquisition and is awaiting trial in a dungeon with his assistant, Sancho Panza, and other prisoners. Cervantes and Panza are ambushed by their fellow prisoners in an attempt to take their belongings with Cervantes pleading with them to not burn an invaluable manuscript he wrote. To determine the fate of the manuscript, the prisoners go into a mock trial prosecuting Cervantes for several crimes (being a bad poet among them). For Cervantes' defense, he puts on a play where he portrays Don Quixote, an old and crazy Knight. Crazy, indeed, he even took on a fight with a windmill thought to be a dreaded dragon. They then flip back to "reality". Mr. Brennan has a grand and complicated role on his hands.
Another standout was Edd Ohlsen as the aforementioned Sancho Panza. Sancho is Cervantes trusty assistant and Squire in the "play" sequences. He brought excellent comedic relief in what is a dramatic, serious story. In fact, he was all of the comic relief. An audience favorite was his performance of "The Missive" where Sancho delivers a message to Cervantes' love, Aldonza, portrayed by Emily Nadler, from Don Quixote but Aldonza is not having it. Their bantering had the audience roaring.
Overall, the large twenty-two person company was fantastic with pretty much everyone taking on multiple roles between the dungeon scenes and the "play".
Not only did he Direct and Produce this production, Noel Ruiz also designed the beautiful set. The story mostly takes place in a dungeon. The whole back of the raised stage, top to bottom and wing to wing, was constructed to resemble cinder blocks/cement walls with a movable staircase in the center to enter the dungeon. For the dream sequences, they also utilized the side stairs and built two large pool-like structures they used for water wells. I'd venture to say this is one of the most elaborate sets I've seen from CM PAC.
In this wonderful production of the Tony winning Man Of LaMancha, you'll journey with the cast with many different emotions from laughter with Sancho to intense with the story as whole. Now running through November 11th, the thing to remember when seeing Man Of LaMancha is nothing is always what is seems to be.
Man Of LaMancha is presented by Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center (CM PAC) located in Oakdale, Long Island through November 11th. Written by Dale Wasserman, Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion, Produced/Directed/Set Design by Noel Ruiz, Musical Direction by Christopher McKee, Lighting Design by Brendan Noble, Sound Design by Don Hanna, Make-Up by Lisa Kerr, Costume Design by Ronald R. Green III. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 218-2810 or visit www.cmpac.com.