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By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
Tickets will go on sale this Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce office for the Curtains Up Pagosa! production of “Man of La Mancha,” to be presented in the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium Dec. 12-15.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students. (This play is not recommended for children under 12 due to violence and subject matter.) As with all Curtains Up Pagosa! productions, the musical will be accompanied by a live pit orchestra and will feature some of Pagosa Springs most seasoned amateur actors.
“Man of La Mancha,” written by Dale Wasserman, is based on the 17th century masterpiece, “Don Quixote,” by Miguel de Cervantes. The music, composed by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics written by Joe Darion, includes the beautiful signature song, “The Impossible Dream.”
The play takes place in a prison holding cell as inmates await their fate from the leaders of the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes, the lead character, and his faithful servant have been thrown into prison for mocking the Inquisition.
Cervantes, a poet and playwright, brings to prison a trunk filled with costumes and a script, loot that the inmates determine to confiscate. The leader of the inmates offers him a mock trial to decide whether or not he will be allowed to keep his prized possessions. Cervantes offers his defense to the inmates in the form of a play about Don Quixote de la Mancha, in which he incorporates the other inmates as actors. What follows is a story about a somewhat mad idealist who wants to bring chivalry and goodness to a fallen world.
There is humor, mixed with dark irony and sadness, in the numerous mad antics of Don Quixote de la Mancha, played by Dave Armbrecht. Quixote falls in love with the wanton woman, Aldonza, who he claims to be his own virginal maiden, Dulcinea. Aldonza, played by Darcy DeGuise, is a badly mistreated, rough around the edges street woman, who has sold her services to the prison inmates. She is hardly the person Quixote imagines her to be, yet ultimately his idealistic vision of her virtue and purity brings her to a new image of herself, one that has never been offered to her before.
Some of the light and fun moments in the play come from the childlike companionship of his sidekick, Sancho Panza, played by Jarret Heber. Sancho follows his master with loyal innocence, even when Quixote battles a windmill he believes to be a dragon, asks an innkeeper to dub him a knight, confiscates a barber’s shaving bowl to wear as his golden helmet, and ultimately defends the honor of his beloved Dulcinea. Though Sancho attempts to offer a reality check to his master, he never leaves his side, explaining his loyalty in a charming song, “I Like Him.”
“Man of La Mancha” is, in the end, a play about hope against all odds. Through his art and storytelling, Cervantes brings his prison inmates to a totally new perspective about life and death, good and evil, truth and courage, in the face of extreme ugliness and adversity. What seems mad and irrational evolves into something quite beautiful, pure and real. Cervantes shows that the truth of love and beauty can indeed win out over ugliness and evil.
“Man of La Mancha” is a not-to-be-missed musical production, one that will likely leave audiences spellbound and transformed. It will run for only four evenings, so buy your tickets and come early to secure your preferred seats.
Curtains Up Pagosa! is a non-profit arts organization established in 1989. Proceeds from its musical productions go towards supporting local educational arts programs and scholarships for graduating students who wish to pursue a career in the arts. For more information on how to volunteer or offer your support, go to www.pagosamusicboosters.org.