The vainglorious quest
Man of La Mancha
The central character of The Man of La Mancha is a man of mystery—to his cellmates accused of treason under the Spanish Inquisition, as well as the musical’s audience. Gradually, he reveals himself to be of two selves when he puts on a play for his fellow prisoners: He is both Miguel de Cervantes, accused traitor and author of Don Quixote, and his main character—the mad knight and visionary.
This 1964 musical adapted from Cervantes’ 17th century novel, and a subsequent 1959 teleplay, I, Don Quixote, presents Cervantes as a failed writer who, while awaiting trial, barters for his stolen possessions by acting out the fantasy adventures of Don Quixote.
Though the plot is a bit convoluted and hard to follow in the beginning, with the help of Sacramento Theatre Company’s cast, impressive sets and staging, and a live orchestra, eventually you get pulled into the bowels of a prison in Seville, as well as into the life of Cervantes and the exploits of his imaginary hero. The songs: “Man of La Mancha” and “The Impossible Dream” are plusses.
Chris Vettel is captivating as Cervantes/Don Quixote, with a very theatrical performance and impressive vocal chops, backed by equally talented castmates: Nicole Sterling, as the hardened barmaid and love interest to both Cervantes and Don Quixote, Jake Mahler, as trusted wingman Sancho, Matt K. Miller as the Duke, and Michael RJ Campbell as the Governor. Creative staging includes simple wooden props that transform into a cantina, a confessional, and a windmill, as well as see-through iron horseheads, flowing costumes and energetic fight scenes.