One cannot think of the Tony Award-winning musical “Man of La Mancha” without humming one of the best songs ever written for Broadway, “The Impossible Dream.”
You’ll be humming it on your way back from Matunuck’s Theatre-by-the-Sea, where the old barn theatre is giving a nice production of the play-within-a -lay about the adventures of Don Quixote. Scenic designer Mark Halpin has turned the small barn stage into a dungeon prison, complete with drawbridge, where the imprisoned Miguel de Cervantes, aka Don Quixote, pleads his case before his fellow prisoners, telling his story by using the prisoners to act it out. Director Aimee Turner does wonders in changing the prison into an inn, a church and other places along Cervantes’ quest.
You know the story. Everyone is convinced that this man from La Mancha has gone mad. After all, he tilts at windmills, uses a barber’s washbasin as his “golden helmet” and worships a prostitute. People tell him that “chivalry is dead,” but he continues his quest to find good in the world as he defends the honor of the unconvinced Aldonza (Christine Rowan), whom he calls Dolcinea.
Broadway veteran Bruce Winant is a convincing Quixote, with a good stage presence and adequate voice, although he, like many singers, avoided the final high note of “The Impossible Dream.” Rowan’s voice is also pleasant but not overly powerful. They both sound better when accompanied by the fine supporting cast. There are some nice songs, including “The Psalm,” sung by Alan Wager as the Padre, the best voice in the cast.
There is some humor in the story, which turns a bit more somber at the end but emphasizes that we sure could use a little more grace in the world.
“Man of La Mancha” makes for an enjoyable, nostalgic evening of theater. It plays in Matunuck through July 16. Arrive early for dinner and visit the glorious gardens on the property, and stay afterwards for a drink or dinner at the Bistro. For reservations call 782-8587. Tickets are $39 to $54.