Binghamton University’s theater department asks its audience to put its faith in the impossible with its second and final main stage production of the fall semester. “Man of La Mancha” reminds those watching to keep up hope when none is there to be found.
Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, “Man of La Mancha” is based on Wasserman’s non-musical 1959 teleplay, “I, Don Quixote.” The musical tells the story of the “mad” knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing during the Spanish Inquisition.
The show is set up so that Don Miguel de Cervantes and his squire, Sancho, put on a charade for a group of prisoners, the story of Don Quixote. Eventually the prisoners become a part of the charade.
Caitlin Gotimer, an undeclared freshman who plays Fermina, said that the plot of the show can be very tricky to make sure that the contrast between prison life and “Quixote-life” is apparent, yet also realistic.
“Since the audition process, one thing Tom Kremer has repeatedly said is ‘’La Mancha” is one of the few plays that lets the audience know that the performers are acting,'” Gotimer said. “He has urged us all to take advantage of the liberty to act. That being said, the contrast between Don Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote de La Mancha is not only apparent, but makes the show so much fun to watch.”
Tom Kremer, a theater professor, is the director of the play. The cast raved about Kremer’s attention to detail and willingness to help them go as far as possible with their character. They describe him as having insight as well as artistic vision, and praise his constant support and encouragement throughout their work with the show.
Ian Penzel, an undeclared freshman who plays Juan, is extremely grateful to start off his theater career at BU with Kremer as his director.
“He is great to work with, being both fun and professional,” Penzel said. “We all have our laughs and good times, but we also know when it is time to work. Tom treats this show very professionally, as if it were a Broadway production. In turn, we are performing for Binghamton, a show comparable to a Broadway production.”
“Man of La Mancha” stars Steve Tarnow as Don Miguel de Cervantes.
Steve Tarnow, a graduate student in the theater department, stars as Don Miguel de Cervantes. He said that the role has been a great opportunity.
“Cervantes is the centerfuge to which the entire show really revolves around,” Tarnow said. “At times, Cervantes is very narrator-like as he goes through his story, teaching the parts to the other prisoners, but as Quixote, he becomes the very symbol of what it is to live life at its fullest, and what life ought to be, if only people would live their lives as if any moment could be their last.”
A unique aspect of this musical is the intricate fight scenes. Multiple cast members commented on enjoying the extensive stage combat they had to learn.
Austin Tooley, who plays Sancho, said that BU students will enjoy the play as it provides a chance to escape into a fun world.
“I think that the quest of Don Quixote is a quest that people can find in their own lives, a quest for something outside of themselves,” said Tooley, a first-year graduate student in the theater department’s directing track. “When the world begins to take on the grey pallor of war, hunger, hardship or any of [the] multitude of problems that beset life, then a quest for something far greater, even if unattainable, begins to look like the only glimmer of something hopeful.”
“Man of La Mancha” is set to open at 8 p.m. on Nov. 11, with performances at 8 p.m. on Nov. 12, 18 and 19 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the Anderson Center’s Watters Theater. Tickets are on sale at the box office in the Anderson Center at $10 for students with ID, $16 for faculty/staff/seniors and $18 for general admission.