BWW Reviews: MAN OF LA MANCHA at Westchester Broadway Theatre
Man of La Mancha opened at Westchester Broadway Theatre in the usual grand way. It is certainly exciting to have robust Cervantes/Don Quixote and silver voiced Aldonza/Dulcinea, but the production itself needs to iron out some kinks. Perhaps it is the weak book by Dale Wasserman that stops this production cold in some parts. The score, however, by Mitch Leigh is truly the star, with such gems as "I, Don Quixote" "Dulcinea" and of course the "Impossible Dream."
Man of La Mancha was a sign of the times type of musical. It counteracted a great many "jazz hands" type of musicals in the 1960's, but never seemed to know whether it was musical theatre or opera. This makes the show itself slow and hard to follow. The best staging was probably the unfortunate "rape" scene, in which the acting, dancing and staging came together perfectly.
Directed and choreographed by David Wasson, the general staging did have some nice moments. However, the lighting design by Andrew Gmoser did not quite contrast the dual scenarios clearly. At times, it was difficult to distinguish which was the fantasy and which was the reality at times. The set design by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case had some interesting levels. A staircase that unfolded from the rafters was especially impressive and served for some nice dramatic moments. They also designed the costumes that had some nice details.
Paul Schoeffler, who has quite the impressive Broadway credits, conveyed the dual characters Cervantes/Don Quixote with multi-layered emotions. His full Baritone had so much expression, the show truly stopped when he sang. This helped ground the show whenever he was on stage, and thankfully, he was on stage almost the whole time. Michelle Dawson matched his passion with her heartbreaking depiction of a woman who did not want to be perceived as a "wench."
Gary Marachek as Sancho provided welcome comic relief as Quioxote's sidekick; a much needed character in a somewhat, dragging story. "The Moorish Dance" in the second act, highlighted this to full effect. The
ensemble was vocally tight, thanks to the expert musical direction by Patrick Hoagland. The orchestra, although a little muffled in the beginning, was brought out fully to accompany and highlight the vocal lines.
Although Man of La Mancha is not a great musical, it is worth seeing this production at Westchester Broadway Theatre. The ambiance and food is very appealing and it certainly makes for a great evening. Plus if you are a fan of beautiful singing and music of the Golden Age of Theatre, you will not be disappointed.
Now through May 1 at WBT. Visit broadwaytheatre.com or call 914-592-2222.