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Review: MAN OF LA MANCHA at Fulton Theatre

The show must go on...

Review: MAN OF LA MANCHA at Fulton Theatre

Sometimes life imitates art in strange and unpredictable ways. On Friday May 27th, I saw Fulton Theatre's production of Man Of La Mancha. For reasons that will soon become clear, my commentary will be presented alongside select lyrics of the show's iconic number, The Impossible Dream.

To fight the unbeatable foe...

Covid 19 has been brutal on live theater. Although both Broadway and regional productions are back on track, things still are far from normal. The pandemic has ebbed and flowed, but hasn't totally gone away. The Fulton has been very proactive in its response, with frequent health checks, masking requirements, and rehearsed understudies for all major roles.

Unfortunately, even all of those precautions were still not enough to guarantee a perfectly healthy La Mancha cast. The performance that I attended was preceded by the announcement that five roles would be played by replacements due to Covid. It was explained that both an actor and their understudy tested positive. A different performer was brought in at the last moment, and was not involved in any of the rehearsals.

To run where the brave dare not go...

As the old adage says, "the show must go on"-and it did! I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and cool nerves demonstrated by the cast. Darius Harper stepped in as the great Don Quixote. Harper gave the part his absolute best and the audience was appreciate of the immense effort needed to make the part his own. Similarly, Amy Decker filled in as Aldonza. It is notable that Ms. Decker is not referenced in the original playbill, so I assume she is the cast member who did not take part in the rehearsal process. She performed admirably, and put her talents on display.

Other replacements include Nathaniel Burich (Duke), Asia Littlejohn (Antonia), and Abby Duppler (Housekeeper). Each individual must be commended for stepping up to this very unusual challenge.

To try when your arms are too weary...

While there were significant challenges along the way (open scripts, missed cues, problems with make-up), the audience was extremely appreciative of the hard work, determination, and enthusiasm needed to bring this particular performance to the stage for our entertainment.

The main theme of Man of La Mancha is one of idealism, of fighting against the odds, of never giving up. We experienced this as an audience. We all shared a unique and special moment that may never be replicated. After all, isn't that what theater is supposed to be about?

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From This Author - Rich Mehrenberg