Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From Music Circus: Impossible Dream is reality

At the Wells Fargo Pavilion, Music Circus brings us Dale Wasserman’s “Man of La Mancha,” a flight of fancy that blends Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” with the psychotic fantasy of its hero. With music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion it tells the story of a character who is both Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote. Both identities, though, may be the mad delusion of a dying townsman named Alonso Quijana. (All three are played by Walter Charles).

Detailing the story would be a disservice, like publishing the name of the murderer in a whodunit. The central theme is best expressed in the lyrics to the show’s most haunting song, “The Impossible Dream”: “to fight the unbeatable foe” and “right the unrightable wrong.” It embraces an idealism that declares, “Facts are the enemy of truth.” Yet the show does have its champion of practicality in Dr. Carrasco (Todd Alan Johnson).

The action, taking place during the sixteenth century, begins in a prison vault where a collection of suspects await trial by the Spanish Inquisition. To build his case Cervantes recruits his fellow suspects to play roles in his novel “Don Quixote,” where he plays himself and Don Quixote at the same time. (I hope it’s fair to reveal that the historic Cervantes was never interrogated by the Inquisition, though he did some prison time for cooking the books while a tax collector.)

The playacting in prison takes us through some familiar territory in the novel, such as the tilting at windmills (which we don’t see on stage) and, more importantly, especially Cervantes/Quixote/Quiana’s relationship with a spirited trollop named Aldonsa (Valerie Perri), whom he insists on calling Dulcinea, an idealized maiden in his chivalric vision. And of course he’s accompanied by his practical companion Sancho Panza (Kevin Ligon).

Along with the entertaining adventures we get some enchanting music, including many exquisite voices, including those of Charles and Perri. Besides “The Impossible Dream” we enjoy a feast of moving songs, among them “Man of La Mancha,” “Dulcinea,” “I’m Only Thinking of Him,” “I Really Like Him,” “Little Bird,” and “Knight of the Woeful Countenance.”

Directed by Guy Stroman, the show also includes contributions from Costume Designer Leon Wiebers, Musical Director Dennis Castellono (with 13-piece orchestra), Scenic Designer Michael Schweikardt, and Choreographer Bob Richard. Photos by Charr Crail.

“Man of La Mancha” continues through August 16 at Sacramento’s Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H Street. Performances continue daily through Saturday at 8 p.m. and end Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $41 to $53, on sale at the theater, by phone at (916) 557-1999 or (800) 225-2277, or online at, where you can also find information about the season. For groups of 12 or more call (916) 557-1198.

No comments: