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Beef & Boards Man of La Mancha a Superb Production

by Rita Kohn
October 25, 2018
Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
9301 N. Michigan Road
Indianapolis, IN 46268
317-872-9664
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
Man of La Mancha gains a superb production at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis, particularly bringing sizzle to movement and texture to staging. Adhering to the original intent of the ensemble-centric stage direction by Albert Marre, whose vision placed the audience within the unfolding story, and the original choreography by Jack Cole, whose innovative dance vocabulary married the locale's ethnic dance rhythms with American jazz, B&B director Douglas E. Stark and choreographer Ron Morgan equally make this simple story of a man possessed by idealism close to our hearts at this time and place. Knowing that audience interpretation is a private affair in a public setting Stark and Morgan give us permission to think, not just sit back and relax and maybe surreptitiously fuss with the smartphone.

Of course it helps that every individual in the 17-member cast is superb. Everything before us is up close and personal in this dinner theatre setting with a thrust stage, and here in Man of LaMancha we are holding our breath for the outcome. Will the manuscript be burned or allowed to be completed? Can an idealist survive, and for what purpose?

"Man of La Mancha is really pretty simple," said Marre in a 1995 interview with the Seattle Post and Intelligencer. "Not a big cast. No fantastic scenic effects. The prison. The prisoners. No transitions. The audience has to use its imagination."

And therein lies a universal truth. We are in the prison; as prisoners demanding Cervantes defend himself for being a 'poor poet and an honest man' while simultaneously pulling us into the charade of a foolish, yet charming old man alive in the 17th century yet mentally, emotionally living in a long past time of Knights roaming the countryside defending damsels in distress. Is the story a clever deceit wherein we must choose our parts? Judge? Jury? Defender? Opposer? or a cautionary tale lest we become illusional by reading too much?

Does the jeer of 'fighting windmills' come to us from Don Quixote? And what of the reminder, 'The man dies, but in our hearts and minds, the quest to right the wrongs lives on— hopefully placed within more attainable pursuits?

And what of the disbelievers? Is chivalry really dead?

Richard White wears Don Quixote exquisitely, as he is interpreted here by playwright Dale Wasserman. The script is not totally factual to the real Cervantes and to the real novel. Dramatic effect took precedence in 1965 when the script evolved. White, whom we best know as the voice and characterization of Gaston in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" film, has played Don Quixote in other productions. Yet, in a Beef&Boards news release, White makes the point that interacting with new cast members in each new production provides nuanced insights for his approach to the Don.

Essentially, Man of La Mancha demands the heightened energy of a work that in essence is balletic in its storytelling, ensemble in its interaction. Movement as human architecture builds upon a landscape close to the bone of the real Mancha located in central Spain south of Madrid. In their dual roles the company breathes with the intensity of the Plain pinched between mountain ranges.

Erica Hanrahan-Ball brings aching depth to Aldonza. Her plea to "See me as I am" elevates us when she can see herself as she can be—Dolcinea. Eddie Curry is the perfect Squire. When pressed to answer, 'Why do you follow him?' the reply is honest, "I like him…"

Up and down the line we can find ourselves in the parts, each truthfully inhabited by: Nick Fitzer, Chuck Caruso, Logan Moore, Roxy York, Jacob Butler, Anna Baker, David Buergler, Ben Cullen, Amanda Tong, Leonard D. Harris Jr., Joshua L.K. Patterson, Jon Rose, Ike Wellhausen, Christine Zavakos.

Are we as they are: uncouth muleteers? The jealous co-worker applauding the rape? The family? The Priest? The innkeeper? The wife? The officers of the Inquisition? The play within the play asks what is the possibility of an impossible dream?

The Psalm chanted by the Priest is Number 130, one of the Songs of Ascent, particular in its question: "If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O, Lord, who could stand?'

Perhaps the standing ovation came as an answer "To the voice of …supplication…for mercy…redemption…hope…"

On Oct. 12, the audience was reacting to the generosity of the production as a whole, including Chris Tucker as the on-stage guitarist and also joining the orchestra with Terry Woods conducting and on keyboroards; Kristy Templet on keyboard; Dorothy McDonald, woodwinds; Terrence Mayhue, percussion; Dan Golando, trumpet. Mention should be made about the unusual scoring of Mitch Leigh's music. Man of La Mancha is a Broadway musical without strings, save for guitar and double bass, and heavy on brass, woodwinds and percussion. From the moment La Mancha opened on Broadway on November 22, 1965, the songs [with lyrics by Joe Darion] have become standards. The Latin rhythms sneak up you in the solos, echoed in the ensembles, each number sung with clarity so we can catch the words repeated into different intents. No credit is given for the two actors depicting the Don's horse Rocinate and Sancho's donkey Dapple, so whoever you two actors are, please know you are amazing.

Applause as well to Daniel Hesselbrock for sound design; Michael Layton for scenic design; Ryan Koharchik for lighting design; Bill Mollencupp, technical director; Ed Stockman, stage manager; and Bottari & Case for costume design.

Man of La Mancha continues through Nov. 18. Tickets at 317-872-9664 or at beefandboards.com

elf The Musical closes out the 45th season, Nov. 23-Dec. 31.

Beef & Boards 46th season opens Jan. 4, 2019 with They're Playing Our Song.
The mission of each true knight: Don Quixote (Richard White), left, tells Aldonza (Erica Hanrahan-Ball) that “the quest” is the mission of each true knight in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

The mission of each true knight: Don Quixote (Richard White), left, tells Aldonza (Erica Hanrahan-Ball) that “the quest” is the mission of each true knight in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

Photo © & courtesy of Patricia Rettig


Erica Hanrahan-Ball is Aldonza: Erica Hanrahan-Ball plays the role of serving woman and part-time prostitute Aldonza in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

Erica Hanrahan-Ball is Aldonza: Erica Hanrahan-Ball plays the role of serving woman and part-time prostitute Aldonza in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

Photo © & courtesy of Patricia Rettig


Don Quixote and Sancho ride together: The squire Sancho (Eddie Curry), left, rides with Don Quixote de La Mancha (Richard White) in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

Don Quixote and Sancho ride together: The squire Sancho (Eddie Curry), left, rides with Don Quixote de La Mancha (Richard White) in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

Photo © & courtesy of Patricia Rettig


I Really Like Him: Sancho (Eddie Curry), left, explains to Aldonza (Erica Hanrahan-Ball) why he stays with Don Quixote in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

I Really Like Him: Sancho (Eddie Curry), left, explains to Aldonza (Erica Hanrahan-Ball) why he stays with Don Quixote in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha, now on stage through Nov. 18. Featuring the powerful song “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha is the winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It tells the story of Don Miguel de Cervantes’ imprisonment during the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes includes his fellow prisoners in his play about the fictional windmill fighting knight, Don Quixote, transporting them to La Mancha where they learn about chivalry, honor, duty, and love. The show is rated PG-13 for some adult content. Ticket range from $44 to $69 and include the dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, and select beverages. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664. For more information, visit beefandboards.com.

Photo © & courtesy of Patricia Rettig

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