Review: Rusty Ferracane Plays MAN OF LA MANCHA To The Hilt

By: Oct. 12, 2015

Theater Works' house lights dim.

Brett Aiken's austere and cavernous dungeon is a stunning set to behold, evoking the cold desperation of its inmates who steal away in nooks and crannies, cringing in fear of the Spanish Inquisition.

A creaky drawbridge descends.

The stage is set for Rusty Ferracane's captivating and inspired performance as Don Quixote in MAN OF LA MANCHA.

Ferracane commands the stage with a knightly prowess befitting his characters ~ as Miguel de Cervantes, a tax collector imprisoned for foreclosing on a monastery, and then as the knight errant of the woeful countenance in the play within a play.

Ferracane is so utterly believable that, as he gazes beyond the horizon, one senses that he really sees the impossible dream becoming fulfilled. When his Quixote storms at windmills or idealizes a lusty barmaid into the beatific Dulcinea, he acts not as a pathetic buffoon but rather as the credible, albeit unsteady, champion of chivalry and valor. Despite exhortations to "come to terms with life as it is," the knight errant opts to "lay down the burden of sanity and engage in a quest "to right all wrongs" ~ and Ferracane embodies Quixote and his mission wholeheartedly. His vocal range is faultless. He does more than sing the words of Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion's memorable songs; he channels their meaning and intention so that they may literally bring a tear to one's eye.

A solid supporting cast joins Ferracane in this superbly crafted production: most notably, Rob Allocca as Quixote's manservant, Sancho; Janine Colletti as Aldonza/Dulcinea; and Jeremie McCubbin as the Padre who seeks to reason with the battered Quixote.

Smartly directed by D. Scott Withers and meticulously choreographed by Katrina Sanders, Theater Works has inaugurated its 30th Anniversary Season with a sterling production of Dale Wasserman's timeless classic (now celebrating its 50th Anniversary). This must-see show runs through October 25th at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo credit to Moran Imaging