COLUMBIA — Sound the drums, mount the steeds, sally forth and join Sierra Rep on an inspiring adventure.
It is the Tony-Award-winning musical Man of La Mancha, the beloved tale of knight-errant Don Quixote, playing at SRT Aug. 25 through Oct. 1.
The adventure begins in a 16th Century stone dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition, where jailed writer Miguel de Cervantes awaits sentencing for crimes against the church. With his fellow inmates ready to pounce on him, he distracts them by enacting his story of Don Quixote, a kind Spanish nobleman weary of the real world and now lost in his visions of knights, ladies and dragons.
On his dungeon stage, Cervantes draws his fellow inmates into the story. They bring to life the world where Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho, carry out their misadventures as they rush to fight windmills and other imaginary enemies.
Quixote, in his madness, elevates the ordinary into lofty extremes of good and evil. In his eyes, a shaving bowl becomes a golden helmet, a simple innkeeper is lord of a castle, the gang of crude muleteers are fellow knights – and Aldonza, the ravaged scullery maid who spits out venom as she fends off the lusty muleteers, becomes his purest inspiration, the “lovely lady” Dulcinea.
Quixote’s visions of grandeur charm many, shame or frighten others – and for Aldonza, finally stir her trampled heart and raise her hopes as she begins to see some good in herself.
Director Dennis Jones considers Don Quixote’s story as moving today as it was when written some 400 years ago.
“It’s the story of someone who refuses to give in to the drudgery of everyday life, and dreams about being greater than that,” Jones said. “There’s a simple appeal in that, the belief that there is something courageous in our nature we can return and hold on to.”
Quixote’s adventures may be comical or even pathetic to some, but as his squire Sancho explains, you like him.
While Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote has been a classic tale for centuries, the musical version that debuted on Broadway in 1965 has also had enduring success as one of the best-loved shows in American musical theatre. It is a well-written piece with exciting music, a wonderful blend of comedy and pathos with one of the most well known theme songs ever written, “The Impossible Dream.”
It has been performed often around the country, and this is Jones’ second time bringing it to Sierra Rep audiences. He directed it in 2000 and is sure that the magic of this piece will engage audiences once again. Dennis is also the scenic designer, so expect the usual awesome set.
Jerry Lee (The Drowsy Chaperone, State Fair) plays the dual role of Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote. SRT audiences already know Jerry sings beautifully but these roles are a departure from what we have seen of him thus far. He says, “Miguel de Cervantes proved himself an innovative author when he wrote Don Quixote. Rather than regurgitate a character from the oral tradition, he created a new hero that is all at once impressive, funny, perplexing, and truly one of a kind. I am playing the dual role of Cervantes/Don Quixote in this production, one that I have wanted to sing since I was a teenager. What I'm now learning is that Man of La Mancha, not only boasts a brilliant score but a captivating and inspiring script as well. This musical is a flawless tribute to the two legendary men it is based on. I just hope I don't screw it up.”
Newcomers, Bradley Thomas plays Quixote’s sidekick Sancho and Christanna Rowder, plays the trampled on Aldonza. We are pleased to have Michael RJ Campbell (Innkeeper/Governor) who comes from Sacramento where he acts and directs regularly.
Filling out the cast are Abbey Campbell and Lucas Michael Chandler, both have just finished Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The Fallon House Theatre. Also in the production are Ryan Aire Blanning, Cameron Jordan and Gabe Friedman, all new to Sierra Rep and from different parts of the country.
Man of La Mancha opens August 25 and runs through October 1 at SRT’s Fallon House Theatre in Columbia State Park. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:00 PM, matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday begin at 2:00 PM, and Thursday performances are at 2:00 or 7:00 pm. Purchase tickets online at www.sierrarep.org or call the box office at (209) 532-3120. This production is being presented with the help of our silver sponsor, Blue Mountain Minerals.
For tickets and information visit www.sierrarep.org or call the Box Office at 209-532-3120.