Arts Runoff: MAN OF LA MANCHA

Arts Runoff is a Middblog series of performance reviews, originally written by JP Allen ’11. Ele Woods ’11.5 is going to take over the series for now!

Summary: Middlebury College Music Players (MCMP)’s fall show.  A musical written in the 1960’s about madness, art and the power of a dream.  Miguel de Cervantes, a poor poet/actor/writer, is imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition. The inmates put Cervantes and his manservant, Sancho, on trial and as part of his defense, they perform the story of Don Quixote de La Mancha (the world’s most loveable idiot). Yes, it IS a musical within a musical! It’s principal song, “The Impossible Dream” is one of those great drunken karaoke songs that many people know, but don’t quite know where they know it from.

 Good: This is an impressive show. It is a big cast and it’s a musical. That means a lot of people to coordinate, plus extra time for music rehearsals.  Charles Giardina (direction), Hannah Rommer (music direction), and Cami Quiñónez  (costumes) did a great job creating a cohesive show and handling that kind of pressure. The set was innovative, multi-purpose and did not distract from the production. The acting was fine, for the most part. Some were better than others. Nathaniel Rothrock gave a wonderfully convincing and comedic portrayal of Don Quixote. Nicholas Hemerling did a great job balancing his different roles with equal levels of humor, menace and delightfulness. Thomas Scott is a good physical comic and used that to his advantage playing the lovable manservant, Sancho. Nejla Calvo sounds and looks great on a stage and was most believable when she was physically dominating the rest of her cast.  “I’m Only Thinking of Him” and “Dulcinea” were great and are still stuck in my head.

 Bad: It’s hard to be truly immersed in a show when you are sitting in bleachers, so far above it (damn you MCC Social Space and your terrible acoustics!).

The show seemed unintentionally slapdash for a college production. The lights looked pretty, especially the colored lights in companion with the set, but they seemed out of sync with the show.

The cast was imbalanced. Some of the performers didn’t know how to capture the audiences’ attention, (which to me may be the most important part of a musical, bravado!) and others distracted me when I should have been focused on the principles.  Also, while I believe they gave good individual performances, I was skeptical of the connection between Aldonza and Don Quixote.

 Broad: I am always impressed by how many talented musicians and singers there are at Middlebury. The pit band was a real treat. As corny and hippy dippy as the message was –BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN MADNESS! — it is one that I enjoy. There are some real moments of comedy created by (I am assuming) the director, but there are also some misfires. Also, every time a Spanish Inquisitor came onstage I couldn’t help thinking of this.

Contextual Rating:  The last show is tonight at 8PM in McCullough Social Space!
If you already have something planned this afternoon/ evening…

…have fun.  See a different show next week.
…do it.  See Man of La Mancha if you can.

…put it off.  See this show.
.

…skip it. See this show.

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