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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 16, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 29
Celebrate summer with excellent Man of La Mancha
Arts & Entertainment
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Celebrate summer with excellent Man of La Mancha

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Man of La Mancha
Taproot Theatre
Through August


The "summer musical" at Taproot Theatre this summer is Man of La Mancha, a challenging musical with some of the most iconic songs we all know. Who among us hasn't heard of or thought about dreaming "the impossible dream?" Directed by artistic director Scott Nolte, this is a sophisticated and polished production with great visual appeal and wonderful musical arrangements by Edd Key. Heading the cast is a genial and riveting Jeff Berryman, with comic foil Don Darryl Rivera at his side. It's hot summertime entertainment.

A creative basement dungeon was designed by Mark Lund and looks imposing and ominous. Into this dungeon, the writer Cervantes and his servant are tossed to await questioning by the Inquisition. The murderers, cutpurses, and other down-and-out inhabitants are eager to disperse Cervantes' belongings among themselves, until he convinces them that he should have a trial and if he wins he gets to keep his belongings. Cervantes' defense is to tell an elaborate story and involve the cellmates in contributing to the tale.

The tale is of Don Quixote, a crazy man who believes what he wants to believe and runs into windmills thinking he's attacking monsters, and falls in love with a bar wench named Aldonza, whom he declares is named "Dulcinea" and is a virgin. His faithful servant, Sancho Panza, encourages everyone else to go along with the crazy man and humor him. But his family is determined to make him find his sanity again.

The moral is basically that it's better to believe in and strive for soul-satisfying glories, even if they're impossible, than to accept and resign oneself to unimaginative, boring, and spirit-killing realities. While you can debate that, the musical is certainly uplifting and empowering, encouraging one to think about going crazy just because it's so much more attractive.

Berryman has a solid grasp of Cervantes and Quixote, and Rivera is perfection as Sancho, getting to sing about why he follows this crazy man around because "I Really Like Him." Candace Vance makes a beautiful Aldonza, even with a little dirt on her face and messy hair. She has a lovely voice, but seems to be pushing her voice a little too hard in the upper ranges in order to be heard. With a strong assist from Stephen Grenley, Pam Nolte, Mike Oliver, Ryan Childers, Faith Russell, and April Wolfe, the script comes to life.

The three musicians - Jared Borkowski on guitar, Gordon Tibbits on guitar, bass, and others, and Ivan Arteaga on percussion and wind - combine to sound like many more. Simple musical accompaniment to scene changes and mood changes create aural enjoyment.

Overall, this is one of Taproot's most successful productions, which, given the usual level of excellence, is saying a lot. For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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Celebrate summer with excellent Man of La Mancha
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