It's time for my review of Man of La Mancha.
Framed as a play within a play, Man of La Mancha sees Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes performing a play based on his novel Don Quixote to a group of prisoners awaiting a hearing. Its score includes the standard “The Impossible Dream", as well as "Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)" and "A Little Gossip".
Man of La Mancha has many praiseworthy elements, but its book is unfortunately not one of them. To put it mildly, the book is somewhat peculiar. The story makes use of a frame narrative, where in an attempt to win over a group of convicts, Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes tells them the tale of Don Quixote. The story is not particularly engaging, however, and does feel at times a little bizarre. There are a number of conflicting messages within the show, and I left the theatre not entirely sure as to what the purpose of the story had actually been. Whilst Man of La Mancha is by no means dull, its book could certainly do with a little re-working in order to add some new life to it.
Whilst the book is somewhat flawed, the musical score is utterly perfect. In this instance, the composers have made use of traditional Spanish styles such as flamenco and classical guitar. It's exceedingly lively, as well as rather upbeat. The orchestrations were wonderful, and really helped to further the impact of this marvellous music. The highlight of the score is 'The Impossible Dream', which is a true delight; the song is known for its inspiring lyrics, and has even been quoted in multiple political speeches. Kelsey Grammer's rendition of the song was tremendously well performed, and felt rather heartfelt. Other personal favourites of mine from this score include 'I Really Like Him' and the titular song, 'Man of La Mancha'.
In the leading dual roles of Cervantes and Quixote is Kelsey Grammer, who will be known to many as 'Dr. Frasier Crane' from popular sitcoms 'Cheers' and 'Frasier'. Grammer is one of my all-time favourite actors, and I am glad to report that he did not disappoint. He is filled with charisma from head to toe, and is certainly intriguing to watch. In addition to his acting skills, Grammer is also gifted with an outstanding voice, which was rather evident in his rendition of 'The Impossible Dream'. As the show's leading lady Aldonza starred Danielle de Niese, who was equally remarkable. De Niese has an incredible voice, and has a good presence on stage. I found her to be rather convincing in the role, and she was perfectly cast. Nicholas Lyndhurst was also brilliant, portraying the dual roles of The Governor and The Inkeeper. Whilst having limited stage time, Lyndhurst made every moment count and certainly left an impression. A special mention must also be awarded to Peter Polycarpou as Don Quixote's loyal assistant, Sancha Panza, who gave a funny and enchanting performance.
Now for my final verdict of Man of La Mancha. I give Man of La Mancha...
Whilst the book is far from perfect, the show still has a number of redeeming factors. With a delightful score and a stellar cast, Man of La Mancha is still rather enjoyable.
Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.
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