Theatre Review: Man Of La Mancha

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Presented by St Jude’s Players
Reviewed 15 Nov 2018

Produced on Broadway in 1965 this musical, by Dale Wasserman about the writings of Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, has been revived several times. I have seen it at least twice and thought of it as dismal. It has some lovely songs but has always seemed depressing. Director Max Rayner’s production changed that for me; at last I see the humour hidden in the darkest of places.

The set alone is quite an achievement. Putting a musical on that small stage required careful staging and Don Oakley’s set is amazing. It is a dingy prison but also so much more. A platform for the musicians, a trapdoor for the prisoners to hide in, a catwalk with stairs that lower into the middle of the stage, more space that I thought that stage possessed. Also at the back of the set was some great scenic art by Jean O’Brien – high windows with light and depth. Leigh Wheatley’s lighting plot complements the set well.

The music, due to the necessarily small size of the orchestra, was a little thin, but when all is said and done adequate and beautifully controlled by the Musical Director Pat Wilson. The chorus was strong and had a few lovely harmonies. The highlight of the night was Only Thinking of Him sung by the trio Maria Davis (Antonia), Tom Fraser (Padre) and Bronwyn Calvett (Housekeeper). There were also some great harmonies in Little Bird sung by a group of male prisoners with Malcolm Calvett on guitar.

Graham Loveday sings the lead role of Don Quixote/Cervantes, giving us a fine version of Impossible Dream and twenty-one year old Billie Turner with lots of depth and a beautiful voice plays his Dulcinae/Aldonza. Quixote’s trusty buffoon-like servant Sancho is Wade Sheill giving a strong performance. Other good performances came from Rob Jones as the Innkeeper, Andrew Smith as the Barber, Aslan Storm as Dr Carrasco and Steven Lengyel as the Captain of the Inquisition.

This director and his cast had fun with this show, a new venture for St Jude’s as they do not usually undertake musicals. The audience certainly enjoyed the outing; you should check it out for yourself.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: St Jude’s Hall, Brighton Road
Season: 15-24 Nov 2018
Duration: 2.5hr
Tickets: Adults: $22 Concession: $18 Child: $10
Bookings: Website: stjudesplayers.asn.au click BOOK TICKETS or
telephone 8296 2628 or 0436 262 628 (Mon-Fri 9:00am to 5:30pm)

 

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