MAN OF LA MANCHA at WBTPublished: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 By: Gary Chattman Source: Westchester Arts & Education Review
THROUGH May 1, 2016
What is insanity? One man’s insanity may very well be another man’s reality. And that is the crux of WBT’s 195th production. After “Showboat,” after “Always…Patsy Cline,” you probably would guess that this masterful dinner theatre (note the “re” on theatre) couldn’t possibly top itself. Well—you’re wrong. They have, on stage, provided us the story of Donald Trump!
Well—I’m kidding. Actually, it’s the story of Don Quixote, who tilted at windmills as a unique knight, who dreamt “The Impossible Dream;” who found the beautiful Dulcinea, who was masquerading as a cheap maid named Aldonza, in a castle that was really a way-station inn for low-down muleteers in Spain in the 1600’s.
It is also the story of a nobleman named Alonso Quijana, who has descended into delusion; his mortal enemy, The Enchanter; his niece Antonia (who will inherit all with her intended, Dr. Carrasco) and his housekeeper. All think Quijana is mad.
But what, really is madness?
We find the writer, Cervantes, thrown into prison for poor tax collecting, and must defend himself to the inmates (and to the Inquisition) for his misdeeds. Thus---the unique play-within-a-play. And thus is born, “Man of La Mancha.”
It’s not madness of Stutler and Funking to continue to provide Westchesterites with the best of theatre (Note the “re” on theatre.) It’s not madness to ask Michael Bottari and Ronald Case to design a set that dwarfs many Broadway productions.
It’s not madness to create an environment that succors its audience so well—that I forgot where I was while I was watching the show! Maybe that’s the madness of WBT’s productions!
I seriously don’t know where WBT gets such actors as Paul Schoeffler (as Cervantes/Don Quixote/Quijana); Michelle Dawson (as Aldonza/Dulcinea); Gary Marachek (as Sancho, the squire). I could name Ian Knauer, Alan M-L Wager, Geoff Belliston, Joanne Borts, David Cantor and Joseph Torello and other supporting cast members with the superlatives of theatre that are bandied about, such as “mesmerizing!” or “fantastic!” or “extraordinary singing” or “unbelievable acting,”
I can add to the adjectives for Schoeffler—who not only inhabits Cervantes; masquerades as Quixote and realizes the truth as Quiana—but commands the stage as a knight errant. I could tell you that the lilting, extraordinary voice of Dawson is wonderful. I could laud the pantomiming horses and other theatrical stunts you find on this thrust stage.
I must seriously laud the director/choreographer, David Wasson, who turns the thrust stage of WBT into the Inquisition prison. It is in this prison that Cervantes gets to act out his book about Don Quixote—with the help of the prisoners, who take parts. What a genius of presentation by writer Dale Wasserman, lyricist Joe Darion and composer Mitch Leigh—and the aforementioned David Wasson. I was totally lost in the production of “Man of LaMancha”—I found myself transported to the 1600’s. It takes a masterful director to produce such a play.
I, too, am a writer of 6 published books, and one is titled “The Quixotic Teacher” about my trials and tribulations as a NYC administrator/teacher. I, too, fought windmills. So I identify strongly with this show and that’s probably why this production mesmerized me, so.
Try to find your “Impossible Dream” by calling 914 592-2222 and asking for tickets to this magnificent show. I can’t believe that such a venue for theatre (note the “re”) can flourish in Westchester, only 45 minutes from Broadway. On Broadway you pay over $135 a ticket; pay for dinner, lunch; pay for parking. And you have to travel to get to the show. Here you get a great meal, show, free parking. I promise you that WBT’S “Man of La Mancha” is far superior to any on Broadway.
Bring your friends and bring your relatives, political friends and enemies. “And the world will be better for this, That one man, scorned and covered with scars, Still strove, with his last ounce of courage, To reach the unreachable stars!” Those stars are at the Westchester Broadway Theatre until May 1!