Question: Why is Man of La Mancha considered one of the great works of the theater? Answer: It is one of the few plays/musicals that will always resonate with its audience. When you have a show with themes including the importance of honor and nobility, being chivalrous, and maintaining idealism, you can clearly understand its resonance. In 1965, when the musical first opened on Broadway, the country was healing after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and being engulfed in the Vietnam War. In 1992, when the third Broadway revival opened, the country was still in the midst of the recession of the early nineties. In 2002, when the most recent Broadway revival opened, the world was healing from the 9/11 terror attacks and entering the War on Terror. Currently, the play can be seen at the Elmont Memorial Library Theatre – Home of Plaza Theatricals. In the last few years, we sadly have been dealing with a pandemic physically, politically and racially. Throughout history, when the world may seem on fire, this show reminds the audience the importance of being optimistic and staying positive.

Man of La Mancha takes place in the 16th century during the Spanish Inquisition. Playwright poet and tax collector, Miguel de Cervantes, is thrown into a dungeon in Seville to await trial for an offense he made against the Church. While in the dungeon, Cervantes must also stand before a mock trial in order to keep his possessions. Cervantes decides to provide his defense through a play, with the help of his faithful manservant and fellow prisoners. He presents the story of his unpublished manuscript, Don Quixote.

Cristina Maria Castro; Bruce Rebold

Bruce Rebold has the daunting task of stepping into Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote de La Mancha’s shoes once filled by Richard Kiley, Raul Julia and Brian Stokes Mitchell, just to name a few; Mr. Rebold’s “quest” was a success! Rebold really brings his role to life in every way, shape and form. He delves deep into his soul and eloquently exerts every possible emotion of each line of Dale Wasserman’s dialogue and every Joe Darrion lyric. Mr. Rebold’s performance was truly inspiring with his deeply resonating performance. Much like his manservant, Sancho Panza (played wonderfully by Tony Castellanos) says, “I really like him”; and you will too. Cristina Maria Castro also gives a great performance as Aldonza, a serving woman/part-time prostitute who Don Quixote falls in love with and believes her name to be Dulcinea. Ms. Castro really shines with her performance of “Aldonza”; it’s raw and will tear your heart out. The leads are supported by a fantastic ensemble. It was great to see Peter McClung commanding the stage once more this time as The Innkeeper/The Governor. Maria Tramontozzi (Antonia), Paulette Oliva (Housekeeper), Sam Brackley (The Duke/Dr. Carrasco) and Rodrigo Ignacio Cruz (Padre) were all excellent in their roles, had beautiful voices, and really made some obscure songs truly memorable. That’s no easy feat when you have “Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote),” “Dulcinea,” and “The Impossible Dream” part of the score. Mr. Cruz in particular brought great nuance to the role of The Padre and beautifully sang “To Each His Dulcinea” and “The Psalm.”

Jessica White; Jorge Echeverria; Bruce Rebold

Kevin Harrington once again directs a magnificent production. Scenic designer Jeremy Smith’s dungeon setting was eye-opening. As I walked into the theater, all of the audience members were gasping at the sight of it including myself. Joseph Pallotta conducted the magnificent 14-piece orchestra. Their sound was incredible. I felt like I was listening to the original cast recording. Barbara Kelly once again scored with her authentic costumes. Ms. Kelly’s costumes helped bring the characters and 16th century Seville to life.

Plaza Theatricals once again proves why that are as close to Broadway as Nassau County will ever get. Next up for Plaza Theatrical is the Long Island Premiere of The Color Purple, March 12 – April 3, 2022.

You can purchase tickets to Man of La Mancha and Plaza’s future productions here: https://plazabroadwaylongisland.com

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