Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The Players final show of their 92nd season is "Man of La Mancha". Director Alma Fontana takes her 19 member cast and molds them into people during the 16th century Spanish Inquisition. She says the message of this complex show is the quest for beauty, righteousness, justice and the betterment of mankind. The fantastic two story dungeon setting helps set the mood Alma wants displayed right from the opening scene. Her multitalented cast carries her vision into a well constructed and successful show to close their season.
Alma not only directs her actors beautifully but she blocks them utilizing the whole playing area making post card scenarios for the audience to behold. She is assisted in this enormous task by music director Al Sims who brings out the quality in the singers in the show while playing the piano. Her hard working and ever dilligent duo of stage manager Lydia Matteson and producer Frankie Wellins keep things in order both backstage and out front, too. The costumes by Sharon Charette who made all the women's costumes and repaired most of the men's has an eye for the perfect colors for all the characters in the show. Kudos to the whole staff including the mood lighting which enhanced the overall production.
Playing the huge role of Cervantes is 46 year member Sanford Gorodetsky. He also is Don Quixote and Alonso Quijana in the play within a play scenes. Sandford transforms himself into Quixote during his dialogue before his opening number. He becomes the knight errant performing good deeds and having misadventures along the way. The opening night crowd gave Sanford and the cast a standing ovation because of the emotional feeling you get for the characters during the show. He especially shines in "The Impossible Dream" number which the audience applauds loudly at its conclusion and he handles the moving "Dulcinea" and the rousing "Golden Helmet" songs well, too.
Elizabeth Messier is phenomenial as Aldonza, the most difficult role in the show. She breathes life into the role of strumpet who becomes Don Quixote's vision of a lady, Dulcinea at the show's end. Since the role is underwritten to show this transformation, the actress has to be accomplished enough to do it and Liz pulls it off in spades. The best number of the night is her "Aldonza" song where she tells Quixote she isn't any kind of a lady. Liz's acting while singing this gut wrenching song sent chills up my spine by its intensity of raw emotions! Her transition into a warm caring person later on, is done with ease. Liz makes the pathos stand out when it is needed and her chemistry with the other characters is excellent, too. Brava! Anthony Prichard is a hoot as Sancho. In a straw colored wig and with limber like movements, he reminded me of the scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz".From his comic lines to his two comic songs, "I Like Him" and "A Little Gossip", Tony supplies the laughter needed to offset the darker scenes. His gesture and comical faces tickle the audience's funny bone. He and Sanford play off one another very well.
Jordan Cannady plays the Governor/Innkeeper who tries to keep Quixote in line at his inn and puts him on trial in the prison segment. He gets to dub the knight and sings "Knight of the Woeful Countenance" very well. His scenes with his shrew wife, played by 54 year member, Virginia Butler are hilarious. Ginnie also gets to play a gypsy robber later in the show reminding me of her Morgan Le Fay character in "Camelot"except this time she gets to speak gibberish and tinkle her bells at the same time. Another standout in the gypsy scene is belly dancer Tara Beaulieu. This girl shakes her pelvis like a pro. Her sexy blue outfit is excellent and compliments her movements perfectly.
David Olsen plays his part very well. As the Padre, he gets to sing the moving burial number for Alonso's death as well as the beautiful "To Each His Dulcinea" which shows the dream is only made of air and isn't real. His kind role is in contrast to the villians of the piece, who are the realists not the dreamers. John Bergmark plays Dr. Carrasco who wants to snap Alonso back to reality so he can inherit his wife's money. His wife, Antonia is Alonso's niece (Maria Sepe Tavarozzi) She and the housekeeper, (Louise Tetreault) are only thinking of Alonso's best interests or are they? Both Maria and Louise have gorgeous soprano voices which they use in "I'm Only Thinking of Him" with David and John and in the finale of both acts, too. The four of them pull off their roles wonderfully, providing the contrast to the goodness of Quixote.
Playing the seven muleteers are Dennis Bouchard(who supplies a beautiful harmony to "Little Bird"), Brian Ellsworth ( who is the meanest one of the bunch), Bill Dunn, John Ricci, Tom Oakes (who also plays the gypsy robber/pimp), Bruce Hammond and Walter Cotter (who is hysterical as the barber who has his hat stolen by Quixote). All the guys deserve a round of applause for their physicality during the show. They do excellent choral work on "Dulcinea", "Little Bird" and "Golden Helmet". Great job.
Rounding out the cast are the two inquisition people, David Epstein as the stern captain and Chet Ham as his guard, they both grab prisoners at anytime they want, frightening the audience during their entrances The finale is another standout choral gem to close this show on a wonderful emotional level.
To join in the fun for The Players 93rd season call Lydia at (401) 273-0590 or e-mail her at ThePlayers1909@aol.com She will tell you how to become a member of this theatre club. Tell them Tony sent you.