A Review of a School Performance of Man of La Mancha, a Play Based on Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Im(Possible) Dream
With vivacious music and Spanish-inspired dancing, Raymore-Peculiar High School puts on a jocular and charming rendition of MAN OF LA MANCHA.
Based on the novel “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes, MAN OF LA MANCHA is a play within a play. Set in the late sixteenth century, the failing playwright, Miguel de Cervantes and his faithful manservant have been thrown into prison for allegedly foreclosing a monastery. With his back against the wall, Cervantes must think fast to save his remaining manuscripts and his belongings. He decides to tell the prisoners a story of Don Quixote by acting it all out, donning makeup and costumes.
Taking on the role of Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote is Sawyer Bletscher, who handles the arduous part of a wise madman with panache and spirit. Bletscher nails the climactic song “The Impossible Dream” and makes the “impossible” song seem possible. Alie Gillespie who plays the role of Aldonza is brazen on the exterior, but has a gentle heart and longs to believe what Don Quixote tells her. In the song, “It’s All The Same”, Gillespie gives a brilliant vocal performance that demands your full attention. Bletscher and Gillespie portray their characters realistically with raw emotion and genuine compassion.
Ian Fleming as Manservant/Sancho Panza is a lively addition to this show. After a doleful scene, he bursts out in “A Little Gossip” and provides the audience with a break for laughter and eases the tension on stage. The featured dancers, Rocinante and Dapple, are played by Taylor Felz and Kim Lancaster who are entertaining to watch and are always in sync, which is quite difficult to do when the two characters are not facing each other.
The makeup executed by Julienne Graebner for MAN OF LA MANCHA is particularly impressive. The use of facial hair and “old-age makeup” shows off on Don Quixote, where it is difficult to tell that he is just a high school student. There are no stark lines to be seen between the shadows and highlights, while they are still effectively bringing out the performers’ features.
The choreography of the show is impeccable and is hard to believe that it was done by a cast member, Jasmine Nissanka. The movement flawlessly matches the music and are incredibly original and creative.
The ensemble while making the scene more believable, sometimes had slips in character that distracts the attention away from the main characters. However, these were few and far between that they do not draw away from the overall quality of the show.
MAN OF LA MANCHA is a show definitely worth seeing this season! It captivates and engrosses viewers with its heartwarming and witty characters along with the plot. It will be hard to keep this “Little Gossip” out of town this weekend!