“Too much sanity may be madness… to see life as it is, and not as it should be.” That’s a line from MAN OF LA MANCHA, the musical based on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, which is now performing at A Noise Within (ANW) in Pasadena. The production is directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and will perform in repertory through May 21.
MAN OF LA MANCHA is about the power of imagination and the grand difference it can make in one’s life. The fictionalized author Cervantes is the main character of the musical. While in prison during the Spanish Inquisition, he is forced to act out parts of his Don Quixote play for the other inmates.
At ANW, MAN OF LA MANCHA is set inside a military detention center full of prisoners that can really use a distraction. Cervantes helps them free their minds and imagine an entire new world. Using whatever they find inside the cell, they bring Don Quixote’s visions to life – horses, Inns, and giants included.
Geoff Elliott is spectacular as Cervantes and Don Quixote. It turns out that he is an excellent singer that wows the audience with strong deliveries of beloved songs like “Man of La Mancha,” “Dulcinea,” and “The Impossible Dream.”
Kasey Mahaffy makes for a leaner and handsomer Sancho Panza (Don Quixote’s sidekick) than the one some of us have imagined off the pages of Cervantes’ book. His quick comic delivery is priceless.
Cassandra Marie Murphy is a powerhouse as Aldonza. Her voice is exceptional in songs like “Aldonza,” “Dulcinea,” and the contagious “The Impossible Dream.” It is her debut performance with ANW and the audience adores her.
The cast is complete with Gabriel Zenone as Innkeeper, Cynthia Marty as Maria, Michael Uribes as Dr. Sanson Carrasco, Jeremy Rabb as Padre, Andrew Joseph Perez as The Barber, Jordan Goodsell as Anselmo, Tyler Miclean as Tenorio, Mario Arciniega as Juan, Cassie Simone as Antonia, and Marissa Ruiz as Guard.
The music, written by Mitch Leigh, is performed live by an orchestra. There is no “pit” at ANW, so the music comes from above, as seven musicians play from one of the theater’s balconies. The wonderful music includes Spanish rhythms like flamenco and bolero, and the orchestra performs it all beautifully under the direction of Dr. Melissa Sky-Eagle.
It is safe to say that MAN OF LA MANCHA is this season’s big hit at ANW. You will find yourself smiling throughout most of the musical, as it is a great story filled with humor and impressive voices. On opening night, an obviously delighted audience gave the actors an enthusiastic standing ovation. If you have been considering an evening at ANW, this is your perfect opportunity. You will love every minute of MAN OF LA MANCHA.
MAN OF LA MANCHA performs in repertory with Shakespeare’s KING LEAR and Eugene O’Neill’s AH, WILDERNESS! until May 21. Tickets can be purchased at ANoiseWithin.org or by calling (626) 356-3100. $20 Student Rush with ID tickets are available at the box office an hour before each performance.
Photo: Geoff Elliott (Don Quixote) and Kasey Mahaffy (Sancho Panza). Credit: Craig Schwartz.
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