‘Man of La Mancha’ now at Kelley Theatre

The Stuttgart Theatre Center’s production of the musical drama, “Man of La Mancha,” has now hit the stage at the Kelley Theatre on Kelley Barracks.

Remaining performances are May 21, 22, 28, 29 and June 4-5 at 7:30 p.m., and May 23, 30 and June 6 at 3 p.m.

 “Man of La Mancha” is based on the story of Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes.
“It’s one of the most loved musicals,” said Director Richard Roberts. “People don’t just like La Mancha — they adore it.”

The show is a play within a play, in which Cervantes, imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition and put on trial by his fellow prisoners, tells the story of Don Quixote in his defense.

Don Quixote is an older man who imagines himself a chivalrous knight. During his “quests,” he falls in love with a kitchen wench named Aldonza, whom he sees as “Dulcinea,” a woman of virtue.

“I think of it as a classical romance set to music,” Roberts said. “It’s a beautiful story about seeing the beauty in life.”

In order to produce realistic fight scenes from Quixote’s world, the 18-member cast took hand-to-hand combat training.

“It’s so much fun [but] it’s horrific to watch,” said Lori Parsons, a military spouse who plays a prisoner and Aldonza/Dulcinea. “It’s almost like a dance. You have to memorize your choreography.”

They also learned to inject some extra moments of laughter into the show.
In the song, “I’m Only Thinking of Him,” Quixote’s niece and housekeeper describe their woes to the village “Padre” — a monk who tries to look understanding while protecting his ear during their high notes.

As they present the final product, the actors find themselves relating to the characters on a personal level — even Parsons, who has little in common with Aldonza.

“Aldonza’s a very strong character who ends up realizing her softer side,” Parsons said. “I’ve been a strong, fighting person … [at] different times of my life.”
Andrea Offner, a civilian spouse who plays a prisoner and Don Quixote’s housekeeper, said the show has an impact on the actors, as well.

“It’s a transformative piece,” she said. “The prison is a metaphor for all of us and the limitations we put on our own lives. [Cervantes] tells us to pursue that which we can be.”

This type of  passion in the cast is what makes this show excellent, according to Ron Paoletti, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Recreation director, who plays Cervantes/Don Quixote. 

“I think the overall audience is going to be pleased and excited by the quality of the show and the intensity,” he said. “The ensemble here really came together, and there’s some magic to this show that helps move it forward.”

“Man of La Mancha” is rated PG for subject matter and adult content. To reserve tickets, or for more information, call 421-2825/civ. 0711-729-2825.