Barter Theatre's MAN OF LA MANCHA Begins Tonight
When there is nothing else left, hope still remains. Barter Theatre's epic musical "Man of La Mancha" is a powerful reminder that we can choose to accept the world as it is, or hope for something better. With gorgeous songs, imaginative sets and unforgettable characters, the musical is the perfect way to kick off Barter's ambitious 2014 season.
"Man of La Mancha," beginning tonight, February 13th, is the funny, imaginative musical based on the story of Don Quixote de la Mancha, directed by Barter Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose. Filled with memorable songs like "Dream the Impossible Dream" and "Dulcinea," and "Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)," it won five Tony Awards when it opened on Broadway in 1966.
Barter Theatre gratefully acknowledges the sponsor for "Man of La Mancha," Wells Fargo Advisors, as well as the media sponsor Charter Media. Season sponsors Alpha Natural Resources, Eastman Credit Union, Food City, Mountain States Health Alliance and The United Company help make all of Barter Theatre's programming possible. Barter Theatre is a non-profit arts organization, and sponsorships like these (as well as contributions from individuals) help support Barter Theatre's educational programs, outstanding professional productions, and enormous economic impact.
The musical is a mix of humor, romance and tragedy, based on the classic Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes and featuring the unforgettable characters of Don Quixote, his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, and his idealized lady Dulcinea.
In the novel, the elderly Don Quixote convinces himself that he is a gallant knight, roaming the countryside to battle giants, defend his lady's reputation, and seek honor and glory. Are the monsters real or merely windmills? And is his lady Dulcinea really a common barmaid? Others may see him as a lunatic, but he brings an irrepressible sense of optimism and adventure to every encounter.
"Man of La Mancha" takes the original novel and, inspired by Cervantes' own life story, gives it a fascinating twist. Author Miguel de Cervantes becomes a character himself, sharing the story of his novel as a play within a play. When he is thrown in to a dungeon by the Spanish Inquisition, Cervantes rallies his fellow prisoners, pulling them in to the fictional world that he has created. In this bleak prison where no prisoner is likely to escape alive, their play-acting becomes more and more real, offering them all a temporary escape and a vision of real hope.
Rick McVey (Cervantes/Don Quixote) was last seen as Javert in Barter Theatre's 2013 production of "Les Miserables." He expressed excitement about stepping in to the iconic role. "People are going to come in with certain expectations," said McVey, "So you have that kind of pressure and that's exciting and scary at the same time."
McVey is joined by Hannah Ingram as Aldonza/Dulcinea, the fiery object of his affections, and Parris Cromer as his sidekick Sancho Panza. Cromer is known for her physical comedy in plays like "Unnecessary Farce," and now she gets to tackle a role that is just as iconic in its own way. A cast of Barter's Resident Acting Company fills the rest of the roles, playing desperate prisoners in a Spanish dungeon, as well as the characters Don Quixote encounters in his adventures.
Is Don Quixote a madman, a fool, or a true hero? As Cervantes says, perhaps Don Quixote is sane, and the rest of the world is crazy: it might be "maddest of all, to see life as it is, not as it ought to be."
The story of Don Quixote's quest to find meaning in a brutal, chaotic world has stood the test of time, whether in 17th Century Spain, 1960s America, or now. When he enters the prison, "Cervantes brings them a new way to live, one with real hope," according to director Richard Rose. "He brings them hope that they can change their world and live a life of more than mere survival. He brings hope that the world is a better place together than alone, isolated, and in despair."