BWW Reviews: Experience The Impossible Dream at Act II Playhouse's MAN OF LA MANCHA
MAN OF LA MANCHA is one of the shows that has rarely been performed in recent years, and it is one that I have never seen before this performance. I feel fortunate that my first time seeing this musical, which is a well-known story, was at Act II Playhouse. MAN OF LA MANCHA at Act II Playhouse is a triumph on many levels beginning with the performances to the set. I was impressed with this production from start to finish, and this is one show that should not be missed at Act II Playhouse.
MAN OF LA MANCHA is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's seventeenth century masterpiece, Don Quixote. Dale Wasserman wrote the book for MAN OF LA MANCHA, Joe Darion penned the lyrics, and Mitch Leigh wrote the music. MAN OF LA MANCHA is a play within a play that tells the story of the "mad" knight, Don Quixote, through the tale told by the author while he is imprisoned in Seville, Spain. Miguel de Cervantes and his fellow prisoners act out the play within the play as they await Cervantes's hearing in the Spanish Inquisition for assessing a tax lien on a monastery. The 1965 Broadway production won five Tony Awards including Best Musical.
Under the direction of Aaron Cromie, the cast for Act II Playhouse's production of MAN OF LA MANCHA is full of strong musical performances. In the title role of Miguel de Cervantes who plays Don Quixote in the play within the show is Peter Schmitz. Schmitz is a fine singer who will delight audiences with his vocals in the beloved songs from this musical, "The Impossible Dream" and "Dulcinea." Schmitz excels in showing the many facets of his characters, Cervantes's fear and resourcefulness, and Quixote's charisma and bravery. Equally impressive in his performance is Sonny Leo as Sancho, Quixote's faithful servant. Leo stands out in this role, and he is charming, animated, and humorous. His rendition of "I Really Like Him" was a balance of humor and sincerity. Leo and Schmitz work well together on stage, and this kinship comes through in the show. In the role of Aldonza, Quixote's love interest is Maria Konstantinidis. Konstantinidis has the difficult task of playing Aldonza who experiences an awakening during the play. Her character starts out as a woman who has had little kindness shown to her since birth and has done what was necessary to survive and through self-introspection. She transforms into someone who is accepting of kindness, and willing to show it in return as she is influenced by Don Quixote's kindness and generosity of spirit through his vision of her as his perfect maiden, Dulcinea. Konstantinidis is a dynamic presence onstage, and her passion comes through in her song "What Does He Want of Me?" One more person I need to mention in this show is Bryan Anthony Wilson who plays the Innkeeper and Governor in this production. Wilson is a powerful presence onstage and he is outstanding in these roles. One of the best songs in the show is "The Dubbing" which is performed by Wilson, Konstantinidis and Leo. One last thing I need to mention is the set for this show, Maura Roche designed the set and it is incredible, it draws you into the story in such a way as to almost be a character in its own right.
MAN OF LA MANCHA runs at Act II Playhouse through June 8, 2014. For more information and tickets please visit their website at www.act2.org or call their box office at (215) 654-0200.
Photo credit: Bill D'Agostino