Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Man of La Mancha"

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entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Man of La Mancha"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Chariho Players current show is "Man Of La Mancha" which is based on Miguel De Cervantes' 16 century novel, Don Quixote. It is set in the common room of a prison in Seville, Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Don Quixote sees the world as he thinks it ought to be. He imagines he is a knight, his faithful servant his squire; together they will punish evildoers, restore justice, and bring chivalry back to society. His morals and standards of living bring current audiences a look back on how people conducted themselves in the past and Quixote's ideals would be a refreshing change to the current day world which seems headed to hell in a hand basket. Director Sandra Laub instills these lessons in her cast members and they do an excellent job with a heartwarming show that brings hope for a better tomorrow and the belief that everyone's impossible dream will come true.

Sandra's students comprehend their lines, giving them the meaning the authors intended and their singing voices are strong and beautiful, too. Music director David DeAngelis Jr. conducts a gorgeous 11 piece orchestra and also taught the intricate songs to this large cast. High school senior Ben Rose plays Alonso Don Quixote and has a wonderful baritone voice which sends chills up your spine with his dynamic rendition of "The Impossible Dream". He also gives a heartfelt rendition of "Dulcinea" and rousing rendition of "Golden Helmet". Ben handles the comic and tender moments with ease and this talented boy plans on majoring in theater at URI or RIC next year. Sancho is played by David DeAngelis. He is hilarious as the comic sidekick and gets to show off his strong tenor voice in "I Like Him" and "A Little Gossip". David and Ben work well together as team in this show. The most difficult role in this show is Aldonza because she has to make the transition from strumpet to the lady, Dulcinea near the close of the show with only a line or two. High school senior Corinne Southern infuses Aldonza with a spitfire personality and is control of the tough men and women around her. She has a strong belting voice which she uses in "It's All the Same" and the emotionally charged "Aldonza" number where she finally confronts Quixote with his misguided look at the world. Corinne's crying scenes bring tears to your eyes as does the strong acting talents of Ben and David.

Dave De Almo plays the Governor/Innkeeper witht he necessary strength but delivers the humor and charm of the role, too. He gets to show off his strong baritone voice in "Knight of the Woeful Countenance" when he finally dubs Quixote knight. Chelsea Ordner plays his shrewish wife, Maria. Lea Ann Richardson plays Alsono's niece, Antonia who has a topnotch soprano voice as does Ainsley Anderson who plays his housekeeper. They show their concern for him in the lovely, "I'm Only Thinking of Him". Andrew McQuaide plays the Padre who gets to sing in the trio with Lea and Ainsley as well as in "To Each His Dulcinea" which tells how each person chases after their individual dreams and his articulation of the lyrics of this number made it stand out for me for the first time ever. He also delivers the poignant De Profundis sung after Quixote's death. Playing Dr. Carrasco/Duke is Mat Clerrico who makes Alsono snap back to reality. This man of science does this by becoming the Knight of the Mirrors where the idealism is destroyed with the harsh view of reality. Mat delivers the goods as Quixote's foe. Alex Bermudez is a hoot as the barber who has his hat stolen by Quixote and the best drunk in a high school show award goes to Chris Louzon who realistically portrayed a lush in this show. Kudos to everyone else on stage and backstage who made this a show to be very proud of. So for an excellent production of "Man of La Mancha" be sure to catch The Chariho Players version of it.

"Man of La Mancha" (18 - 20 November)
Chariho Middle School, Switch Road, RICHMOND RI
1 (401) 742-2236

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide