The Rocky Hill Theatre presented an engaging production of Dale Wasserman’s "Man of La Mancha" Friday night.
The play envisions writer Miguel de Cervantes in a late 16th century Spanish prison, forced into performing for his fellow inmates a dramatic enactment of the misadventures of his iconic literary character, Don Quixote.
The lead of "Man of La Mancha" is also its star. Michael Baron, who portrays both the jailed Cervantes and the hapless Quixote in the prison charade and in the process, seizes the audience’s attention like nobody else in the cast.
Jenna Levitt also shines as the wench Aldonza, whom Quixote nevertheless woos until she finally reforms. Levitt obviously has immense fun with her role.
Carlos Silva, who plays Quixote’s squire Sancho, stands out for making Sancho’s devotion to his master seem believable. Yet, he still fulfills his character‘s functional role within the play; providing deadpanned, sarcastic dialogue about Quixote’s buffoonery.
And in her brief moments onstage, Patrique Alton Herd sparkles too, by maximizing the hamminess in her limited role as the housekeeper.
"Man of La Mancha" features a strong dramatic cast overall and the troupe’s collective acting chops more than compensate for a stray performances.
The entire cast is comprised of flawless stage singers. The play’s musical highlights include "Little Bird, Little Bird," a harmonized male quintet, and of course, the rousing title number. A seventeen-piece orchestra provides instrumentals for these and the other musical numbers in the show.
"Man of La Mancha’s" set-designs are a bit spare, probably because the community center has a stage too small to accommodate more elaborate sets. However, the characters’ costumes are lavish and help to establish the setting of the play.
By showtime Friday night, almost 100 audience members had wedged themselves into makeshift rows of folding chairs that had been packed into a tiny seating area. However, within several minutes, the lights went dark, the orchestra began to play, and they were then treated to a mostly high-quality theatrical exhibition.
If you missed "Man of La Mancha" this weekend, do not fret. The play will return Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.