Thursday, October 3, 2013

Man of La Mancha by Dale Wasserman, Austin Playhouse, September 6 - October 6, 2013

ALT review
Man of La Mancha Wasserman Austin Playhouse TX

by Catherine Dribb

While the impossible dream of Austin Playhouse moving into Mueller Development may still be just that, they’ve finally released Man of La Mancha into the Austin art world. For two years it’s been slated as the opening production in their newly built theatre, but with no ground breaking yet, it seems Don Quixote will have to settle for Highland Mall instead.

Which seems appropriate really. For the man who battles windmills and sees the potential of the world instead of its hardships, would have walked into that all but abandoned mall, and raised his arms in agony. “To be or not to be?”

Man of La Mancha Wasserman Austin Playhouse TX
Rick Roemer, Jacob Trussell (photo: Christopher Loveless)

To be! Don Quixote would have undoubtedly decided. And with the final weekend approaching, the Playhouse has announced that this has been their highest earning musical in all their eleven years of existence.

And as the prisoners of the Inquisition turn their jail cell into an inn and then into a castle, so has Austin Playhouse turned an old Footlocker into an intimate live theatre space and that small stage into a daring dungeon housing victims of religious and political zealotry.

Man of La Mancha enters its final weekend tomorrow with Rick Roemer still giving a beautiful rendition of its protagonist, Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote. Roemer’s voice has never sounded so strong, and his Impossible Dream will bring you not to your feet, but to your knees with its tenderness. 

Despite some pitch issues in the cast, notable performances include that of chorus member Lara Wright, who doesn’t play the usual quirky, gregarious sidekick you’ve undoubtedly seen do at Zach Theatre and the Playhouse, but rather the roles of an understated kitchen wench and a seductive Gypsy dancer. In addition, Leslie R. Hethcox is delightful (as usual - did you see him in Little Shop this summer?!) with his barber cameo. And both sets of galloping horse legs (Hethcox and Stephen Mercantel) were indeed impressive.

The set is well crafted with a trap lowering dramatically into the dungeon, interrupting Miguel de Cervantes’ story and jarring the audience back to “reality” as well. We wonder, what world do we live in, and how do we choose to proceed? Is our story retold with hope and imagination as its greatest honors?

Ma of La Manca Austin Playhouse TX
(photo: Christopher Loveless)

Only you can decide! So choose to indulge this weekend in Man of La Mancha at Austin Playhouse. It’s guaranteed to stir your soul and help you dream some of your own impossible dreams.

Tickets are available online at the website or by calling the boxoffice at (512) 476-0084.

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