Bay City Players Travel the Inspirational Intricacies of ‘MAN OF LaMANCHA’

    icon Apr 24, 2019
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“I shall impersonate a man – come enter into my imagination and see him”

- Don Quixote

Man of La Mancha is one of those chestnuts of Broadway ripe with thematic content and great unforgettable music. First produced on Broadway in 1965, it won 5 Tony Awards and went on to become one of the most acclaimed musicals of all time, with its principal song, The Impossible Dream, becoming an unforgettable standard of the Broadway musical songbook.

Since its Broadway premier there have been 4 revivals, each as relevant and thought provoking to audiences as the original; and now Director Deborah Lake has assembled a stellar cast for Bay City Players’ upcoming production of this timeless musical, which will run from May 2-5 & 9-12th.

Unlike typical musical fare, Man of La Mancha is essentially a ‘play within a play’ requiring the audience to enter into the imagination of its hero Don Quixote. Inspired by Miquel de Cervantes 17th-century novel, it tells the story of the of the mad knight Don Quixote as performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing along with his man-servant during  the Spanish Inquisition. He is put in a mock trial by his fellow prisoners, who want to confiscate his chest and steal all his possessions, including an unfinished manuscript containing the story of Quixote. In turn, he offers his defense in the form of a play acted out by himself and his fellow prisoners.

The play moves seamlessly between the prison and Cervante’s imagination as he finds himself becoming his idealistic hero, Don Quixote; with the prisoners becoming characters in his quest for truth and nobility. There is laughter and tears, humility and adversity, and an alarming hard dose of reality as we witness him persevering and never doubting his quest to ‘dream the impossible dream’ and ‘fight for what’s right.’

Interestingly enough, the original lyricist of this musical was poet W. H. Auden, but his lyrics were discarded, some of them considered too overtly satiric and biting, attacking the bourgeois audience at times. Auden's lyrics were replaced by those of Joe Darion.

Apart from working as a comic-tragedy-musical, La Mancha’s themes of honor, nobility of spirit, chivalry, courage, and idealism functioning within the context of a play within a play all pose distinct challenges; but according to Lake her biggest challenge with this production is balancing the transitions between the prison setting and the play that Cervantes has created.  “It would be very easy for the audience to get confused as to where the actors are physically at any given moment in the show,” she explains, “so we are achieving that with specific lighting choices and changes in set pieces that I hope will help our patrons.”

While there are many themes running throughout this magnificent production, according to Lake her main focus is upon the noble idealism and spirit of Don Quixote himself. “He is a positive influence on all he comes in contact with,” she states. “Some of the characters, especially Carrasco, feel he is a threat; but others such as the Padre believe ‘To Each His Dulcinea’. What is the harm in having a dream if it helps you make it through the day?”

In addition to the ripe content of this production, Debbie is equally enthusiastic about the incredible cast she finds herself fortunate to work with. “I have always believed this show is a drama with music,” she reflects. “It is not your typical musical because there are no large ensemble numbers or ‘jazz hands’ choreography. It is intimate, funny, yet has some truly intense situations that remove it from the realm of musical comedy.”

With a cast consisting of Laura Brigham, Justine Miller, Sierra Rodriguez, yolandi Lohrmann, Erin Frye, David King (in the lead role of Miquel de Cervantes / Don Quixote); Zac Mason as his manservant Sancho Panza, Mike Wisniewski, Jake Monroe, John Tanner, William Meier, Eric Stone, Aaron Robinson Haines, Dale Gibboney, Stevel Moelter, Todd Little, Autumn Gibboney and Jaurez Cruz; Debbie notes how the entire cast are “all very talented actors as well as singers, which is a very important quality to have in this show.”

When asked if she feels Man of La Mancha translates well and is relevant to contemporary audiences, Debbie sums it up this way: “In this unsettled political and economic environment we live in today, I feel the story can only serve to give us a little hope in a very dark world we live in. The triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity is a universal theme that is very pertinent to today’s audience.”

“Fortunately, I had the privilege to see Richard Kiley and Joan Diener in this production in Boston in the early 1980s and have loved this show for many years,” she concludes. “I am honored to be able to direct it for Bay City Players.”

Bay City Players production of the musical ‘Man of La Mancha’ will run from May 2-5 & 9-12th. Curtain time is 7:30 PM except for Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $20 adults and $10 for students and available by phoning 989-893-5555 or visiting





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