Friday, February 13, 2009

review - Man of La Mancha

Man of La Mancha
book by Dale Wasserman
music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion
directed by Michael Michetti
Reprise Theatre
@ The Freud Playhouse, UCLA
through March 1
As many times as I have seen Man of La Mancha, I relish the music and high dramatic moments of this classic piece of theatre. Being, naturally, that the production of it is top notch, with the right actors and skilled direction. Reprise's current revival is definitely worthy of your time and money.
Michael Michetti lovingly directs the production on a raked stage with an outstanding ensemble headed by opera great Julia Migenes and Brent Spiner as Cervantes/Quijana/Quixote. Migenes is a glorious actress, so playful and loose, which makes her a next-to-perfect Aldonza. She makes some interesting singing choices: she underplays her opening number "It's All the Same" (almost to the point of speaking it) and saves her rich soprano for "What Does He Want Of Me?" and "Dulcinea". Interesting and fascinating, as I found the woman riveting at every turn. The real surprise here is Brent Spiner in the leading role. I have seen Richard Kiley, Raul Julia and other great actors play it, and I must say, Spiner makes the part his own. He is strong, focused and sings incredibly well. Lee Wilkof is an absolute delight as Sancho, George Ball outstanding as the Governor/Innkeeper, and praise as well to other members of the ensemble: Sam Zeller, Wendy Worthington ( very funny as the housekeeper and innkeeper's irritated wife), Maegan McConnell (lovely voice) as Antonia, Christopher Guilmet stalwart as Carrasco, et al.
One note of criticism, I believe at least five minutes of dialogue at the beginning between Cervantes and the prisoners has been put back into the script. I find it unnecessary, as the opening scene should play more briskly, as we need to get to the trial and play-within-a- play as quickly as possible.
Appropriate choreography (fight scenes could play a bit less stagey) from Kitty McNamee and fine set design from Tom Buderwitz and costume design by Garry Lennon all add to a rich evening of theatre.
5 out of 5 stars
Post Note: Reprise Theatre Company started out a few years ago presenting semi-staged muiscals that were wonderful, but more like staged concerts. As of late, the productions are almost fully staged and right up to Broadway calibre. Bravissimo!!


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