Triad Stage’s artistic director, Preston Lane, fulfilled the quest of “The Impossible Dream” through his spectacular production of “Man of La Mancha.” Written by Dale Wasserman and first produced in 1965, the Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of Miguel de Cervantes who is cast into prison to await a hearing during the Spanish Inquisition. There, his belongings are stolen by other prisoners and he is forced to present a defense to have them returned. Desperate to regain his most valuable possession—an unfinished manuscript—Cervantes takes on the persona of Don Quixote and enacts his imaginary tales. It is then that the play within a play begins.
Revamped for a 21stcentury audience, Lane sets the action in a modern prison that is complete with a tall chain-link fence, barbed-wire and security cameras. Within that setting, Graham Stevens as Cervantes masterfully transforms into Quixote and takes the prisoners, as well as the audience, on his quest to fulfill his impossible dream of becoming a “knight-errant.” DeMone plays Quixote’s faithful companion, Sancho, and his comedic genius often steals the show.
On his quest to become a knight, Quixote meets and falls in love with a whore named Aldonza, who he affectionately calls Dulcinea. The role of the fiery and disheartened woman is played by Sherz Aletaha, whose ability to summon the audience’s compassion for her character is outstanding.
In addition to their first-rate acting abilities; the lead actors—as well as the rest of the cast for that matter—have exquisite voices that add to the overall excellence of this production. The most popular song is without a doubt “The Impossible Dream” but others, such as “Dulcinea” (performed by both Stevens and Aletaha), “I Really Like Him” (sung by DeMone) and “Little Bird, Little Bird” (performed by an ensemble of male prisoners), are equally memorable and impressive.
During the course of the show, the audience is witness to a fight scene and a disturbing sexual assault. Recognition must be given to Triad Stage’s choreographer Denise Gabriel, and resident fight choreographer Jim Wren, for their skill in bringing these ever-so-real scenes to life. In a more light-hearted fashion, there are several scenes in which tin buckets and mops transform into valiant steeds without any trickery or illusion. The choreographed movements of the actors and the ability of those actors to interact with minimal props is absolutely brilliant.
Bravo, bravo, bravo, to the entire cast and crew of “Man of La Mancha.”
Tickets for “Man of La Mancha” are on sale now through May 26. For more information, contact Triad Stage, 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro, at 336-272-0160 or triadstage.org.