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Castaway Repertory Theatre Man of La Mancha

By • Apr 30th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Man of La Mancha
Castaway Repertory Theatre: (Info) (Web)
A.J. Ferlazzo Building, Woodbridge, VA
Through May 19th
2:15 with one intermission
$16/$12 Seniors, students, Military
Reviewed Opening Night, April 26th, 2013

Castaway Repertory Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha was simply not ready to open Friday night. Beginning with the overture, the orchestra fought an often-losing battle with the score. For their part, actors frequently lost pitch and/or lines, and they and the instrumentalists had great difficulty achieving consensus. Some numbers just fell apart, and some actors, unfortunately, were not up to the acting and singing demands of their roles. Pacing lagged. Important physical sequences, such as the combat between Quixote and the muleteers and the muleteers’ assault on Aldonza, were truncated and never fully realized. On the other hand, some of movement that was inserted (e.g., a sort of kick line for ensemble women during “Knight of the Woeful Countenance”) would have been better off avoided.

The cast included some talented individuals who were ready to open. Jim Mitchell lent experience and gravitas to lead role of Cervantes/Quijana/Quixote, and his warm, strong baritone suited the role well. At times, his interpretation was a bit stolid for the passionate characters he portrayed, but he had some moving acting moments, notably Quijana’s death scene. There were also times when Zina Bleck’s direction disserved him. The show’s best-known song, “The Impossible Dream,” is part of a quiet, intimate scene in which Quixote explains his vision to Aldonza. Sending Aldonza to the sidelines, leaving Quixote to declaim the song straight out to the audience, loses the scene’s touching emotional connection between the two, which is crucial to important changes in Aldonza’s character. Likewise, making an actor play a death scene sitting awkwardly upright in a small chair does him no favors.

As Aldonza, Aerika Saxe had better success with her difficult and dramatic second act song, “Aldonza,” than with her more lyrical musical material elsewhere in the show. In that song, she got more of the character’s mixture of rage, self-loathing, hurt, aggression, and defensiveness than she conveyed in other parts of her performance. Jonathan Faircloth portrayed Quixote’s friend and squire Sancho Panza with great energy and a fine tenor voice, though his cute and lively take on the character seemed far removed from the demeanor of an earthy Spanish peasant. As the unpleasant Duke/Dr. Carrasco, Rich Amada was appropriately aloof and arrogant, at least until his characterization was undermined by a series of overplayed reactions during Quijana’s death scene.

Among the ensemble, Scott Morgan had a nice vocal and acting bit as a traveling barber and one of the women (Amber Miner, based on the program’s attribution to her of the “Young Innocent Gypsy” role) had a sexy dance turn during the Gypsy scene. Morgan and Pat Jannell played a pair of comically anthropomorphic horses.

The space Castaways uses for its shows — an auditorium in a county government building — imposes significant limitations on the technical side of shows there, but these limitations were complicated by some of the production’s choices. In addition to leaving actors in shadow on several occasions, the lighting design featured changing colors projected onto an upstage curtain. The colors seemed to have little connection with the scenes and in some cases were noticeably discordant. Chartreuse, for example, is a color one does not readily associate with the interior of a 17th century Spanish dungeon, and the multiple color changes during the Knight of the Mirrors sequence upstaged the creditable prop pieces that Carrasco and his henchmen used to break Quixote psychologically. The sound reinforcement was inconsistent and sometimes hissy. Costumes were generally plain and simple, in subdued colors, which worked in the prison setting. Aldonza was, for some reason, given a bright orange skirt, a demure blouse, and an encompassing black shawl, quite at odds with the angry prostitute side of the character.

Castaways deserves credit for taking on a show that can be quite challenging for a group with limited resources, and the cast and staff clearly exerted substantial effort in putting the production together. It can only be hoped that the remaining performances will smooth out the bumps and potholes that marred opening night.

Cast

  • Captains of the Inquisition: Pat Jannell (4/26) & Andrew Reid
  • Manservant (Sancho Panza): Jonathan Faircloth
  • Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote and Alonso Quijana): Jim Mitchell
  • Governor (Innkeeper): Brian Miller
  • Muleteers: Scott Morgan
  • Juan: Roger Yawson
  • Pedro: Justin Janke
  • Anselmo, the Guitar Player: Andrew Reid
  • Horses: Scott Morgan & Pat Jannell
  • Alsonza (Dulcinea): Aerika Saxe
  • Maria (Inkeeper’s wife): Lindsey Capuno
  • Fermina (a serving girl): Brooke Angel
  • Antonia (Alonso’s niece): Cambria Ungaro
  • Housekeeper (for Alonso): Nora Zanger
  • Padre: Jack Hopkins
  • Duke (Dr. Sanson Carrasco, Anonia’s fiancĂ©
  • Barber: Scott Morgan
  • Young Innocent Gypsy: Amber Miner
  • The Ensemble (Prisoners/Gypsies): Maria Carias, Jen Hood, Jasmine Clark, Amber Elston, Pat Jannell, Amber Miner

Orchestra

  • Orchestra Director: Jonathan Blank
  • Keyboard, Bass: Jonathan Blank
  • Flute/piccolo: Jessica D. Scalph
  • Bari Sax/Clarinet: Barbara Koehler
  • Clarinet: Jack Sanocki
  • Oboe: Patricia )’Keefe
  • Trumpet: Rick Wittenberger
  • Trombone: Marvin Aleman
  • Horn: Al Badrow, Seila Edwards
  • Reeds: Carol McLaurin
  • Guitar: Erin Cooper

Production Staff

  • Director/Producer: Zina Bleck
  • Stage Manager: Katre Ka “K” Goins-Williams
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Shirley Attanaro
  • Choreographer: Katy Chmura
  • Dance Captain: Jonathan Faircloth
  • Choral Director: Erin Cooper
  • Orchestra Director: Jonathan Blank
  • Fight Choreographer: Zina Bleck
  • Set Design: Gavin Tameris, Zina Bleck
  • Set Construction: Gavin Tameris, Zina Bleck, Rich Prien
  • Properties: Pat Jannell
  • Light Design: Nancy Owens
  • Light Crew: Liz Owens, Justin Janke, Miguel Lopez
  • Sound Design: Stacy King
  • Costumes: Zina Bleck
  • Makeup & Hair: by the Cast
  • Load in Crew: Scott Morgan, Rich Prien, Gavin Tameris, Rich
  • AmadaBrooke Angel, Maria Carias, Pat Jannell, Brian Miller, Jim Mitchell, Aerika Saxe
  • Light Board Operator: Eric Raterman, Stephanie Richardson
  • Sound Board Operator: Stacy King
  • Publicity & Marketing: Don Wilson
  • Photography: Jim Jenkins
  • Program: Karla Carias
  • Program Cover Art: Jim Jenkins
  • Front of House: Kathy Sahlberg, volunteer members
  • Facilities Coordination: Julie Little

Disclaimer: Castaway Repertory Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been an active participant in the Washington-area community theater scene since his arrival in town in 1975.

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