Arts & Entertainment

‘Man of La Mancha’ Brings Impossible Dreams to Shakespeare Theatre in Madison

Kim Sava (left) and Lee Harrington, the Moorish Gypsies, trick Don Quixote played by William Michals (left) and Sancho, played by Blake Pfeil. Credits: Gerry Goodstein
Drew Dix, right as the Inkeeper declares Don Quixote, played by William Michals, the Knight of the Woeful Countenance while Aldonza, played by Jane Pfitsch (left) looks on. Credits: Gerry Goodstein
MADISON, NJ – “To dream the impossible dream, to bear with unbearable sorrow.”  These lyrics and much more have left indelible impressions over the years since “Man of La Mancha” first came on the scene in 1965.
Surely the haunting, enduring music of “La Mancha” would be enough to pull any of us out of our funk in this election season, whether fretting about the state of the world or our fighting own personal demons.
The play, written by Dale Wasserma, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, was first performed at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut and then at the Washington Square Theatre in New York. With Richard Kiley in the lead, the play moved on to Broadway and won five Tony awards.  
It all takes place in a dungeon in sixteenth century during the Spanish Inquisition. The play-within-a-play revolves around Miguel de Cervantes, who has written a manuscript about Don Quixote. He has been imprisoned for foreclosing a monastery. As he awaits trial, he persuades the other prisoners to let him act out a play before judgment is passed.

Artistic Director Bonnie Monte has assembled an extraordinary cast to bring this lyrical production to life. William Michaels is the engaging, flamboyant Don Quixote, when not playing his creator, Cervantes. He totally transforms himself into the "knight of the woeful countenance" as he is dubbed in one of the scenes in the prison. Michaels has just the right touch of madness as the knight, seeing nothing but bravery and noble deeds in battling windmills and rescuing damsels in distress. He is equally commanding as the author Cervantes.
He has arrived with a trunk full of props and a script that he talks his fellow prisoners into performing.  Thus, we have the prostitute Aldonza transformed into the lady Dulcinea. Jane Pitch brings a bold, earthy quality to the role, especially following her rape by fellow prisoners, who she has attempted to comfort in their defeat.
Blake Pfeil is Cervantes’ Manservant, as well as Sancho Panza who protects his master. Sanchez is warm and loyal as he sings “I Really like Him” and “A Little Gossip.”
There are hypocritical moments when presumed relatives sing “We’re Only Thinking of Him,” mourning at a deathbed scene.
Patrick Boll is assured as the Duke/Dr.Carrasco.  David Hess does a fluid transformation as the Governor/Innkeeper and Darren Matthias is powerful as Captain of the Inquisition and Head Inquisitor.
Musical director Doug Oberhamer has provided exceptional background music, never overwhelming the actors, but always bringing vibrancy to the scene. The severe prison setting by Michael Schweikardt has a striking drawbridge-like staircase, clanging shut with an iron gate, that warns prisoners of their likely fate. Lighting by Michel Gannett lends subtlety to the proceedings. Fight director Rick Sordelet helps immensely with the jousting scenes between the knight and those who would fight him. Costumes by Michelle Eden Humphrey perfectly convey the rag-tag lives of these prisoners, who are occasionally abetted by Cervantes’ trunk of costumes.
Surely ‘La Mancha’s’ message of hope over despair, of kindness over cruelty, isn’t lost in today’s world.  How quickly a song like “Little Bird, Little Bird” can shift from sweetly lyrical to swaggering insult.
If you only have time for one or two plays this fall, make “Man of La Mancha” your first choice. See the production at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, located on the campus of Drew University in Madison. The play continues through Nov. 18.  For tickets, call 973-408-5600 or visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey Spring Concert Set for Next Month

May 25, 2018

Now in its 46th season, the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey will present its spring concert Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. inside Madison High School, 170 Ridgedale Ave.

Maestro Michael Stratechuk will lead the orchestra in the performance of Gabriel Faure's "Pelleas and Melisande" and Lars-Erik Larsson's "Concertino for Viola and String Orchestra" ...

SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, local and state authorities announced Thursday morning.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!