“There is either the wisest madman or the maddest wiseman in the world.”
Dale Wasserman’s Man of La Mancha is a theatrical masterpiece. First staged in 1965, it is one of the world’s most popular musicals. The show continues to capture the hearts of audiences in the Cincinnati Landmark Production at the Warsaw Incline Theatre now through September 10th. With its inspiring tale, unforgettable characters and timeless message the musical takes us on a journey that challenges us to see the world through the eyes of a dreamer.
Man of La Mancha is a play-within-a-play. Set in a Spanish prison during the Inquisition, it follows Cervantes/Don Quixote, an actor/poet (Rich Kramer), and his infamous sidekick Sancho Panza (Douglas Berlon).
Forced to defend himself to his fellow inmates, Cervantes transforms into Don Quixote; an endearing elder who falsely believes in a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
We follow this play-within-a-play format throughout the entire show. Multiple dual characters are easily identified by subtle and thoughtful costume changes (costume design by Beth Bolling-Joos and June Hill). The show is beautifully directed by Dee Anne Bryll. Music Director Ryan Heinrich bring to life the memorable score by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion. Choreographer Cassidy Steele adds stirring visuals.
The performances are incredibly moving. Don Quixote is played with remarkable depth by Kramer. His empathy with the delirious idealist is beautifully vulnerable. Kramer has the audience in the palm of his hand as he fully chests and open-heartedly belts the show’s most famous ballad, “Dream the Impossible Dream”. His faithful squire, Sancho, is such an easy character to root for. Berlin plays the perfect complement with an earnest and tender approach as the sidekick.
Other notable cast members include Antonia/Niece (Emma Massey), Housekeeper (Madeline Stern), and Aldonza/Dulcinea (Renee Stoltzfus), who show off their sophisticated soprano vocal ranges. Anselmo (Lawson James Smith), a newcomer to the CLP stage, enchants the audience with his rendition of “Little Bird, Little Bird.” Finally, taking on a smaller role than we usually see him on the CLP stage, is Jeremiah Plessinger. Playing The Barber, Plessinger provides a little comedic relief with his ‘Barber’s Song’ just before the close of Act 1.
The format may be, at first, a little confusing, much like Miguel Cervantes’s original 1605 novel. As the show progresses, the audience follows the rhythm and falls in love with the beautifully written and proverb-packed dialogue.
Don’t Miss Man of La Mancha
Full of surprises, Man of La Mancha reminds us of the boundless potential of the human spirit. This musical will leave you with a tear in your eye and a mark on your heart. Don’t miss it.