Logo from Reprise! Broadway's Best
Man of La Mancha
UCLA Freud Theatre
(405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles 90024)
A production of Reprise! Broadway's Best
Date of reviewed performance: February 24, 2009
Miguel de Cervantes - Brent Spiner
Escalante - Julia Migenes
Cervantes' Manservant - Lee Wilkof
The Governor - George Ball
The Duke - Christopher Guilmet
Judas Macabeo - Robert Mammana
Graciosa - Maegan McConnell
Mother Bane - Wendy Worthington
El Medico - John Kassir
The Scorpion - Sam Zeller
Lobillo - Daniel Guzman
The Gypsy - Ethan Le Phong
Torito - Stefan Raulston
Guitarrista - Roberto Alcaraz
Captain of the Inquisition - Thomas Fiscella
Guard - Brad Culver
Guard - John Todd
For old Star Trek fans, this show is a treat because it starts The Next Generation's Data, better known as Brent Spiner as Miguel Cervantes - author and portrayer of Don Quixote. He does an excellent job in the role and is supported by a strong and talented cast.
This show runs without an intermission, but the pacing is so fast that one really doesn't miss the potty break. Miguel Cervantes and his manservant (who will portray Sancho Panza), are thrown into a dungeon to await the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes immediately becomes at odds with his fellow prisoners and so they put him on a trial of his own. If he is found innocent, he gets to keep a manuscript that the other desperately want to burn. In mounting his defense, he and his manservant perform the tale of Don Quixote, periodically drafting other prisoners into roles. The actors portraying the prisonsers are a versatile lot, capable of being frighteningly threatening one second and vulnerable the next. Wendy Worthington and Ethan Le Phong were particularly good the constant in change in character as the performance progressed. You only had to see each of them for a moment to know what character you were looking at.
The actress who played Escalante, Julia Migenes, did a really lovely job of the role. The only criticism I have of her is that she really didn't change her character or vocals when she alternated from playing Escalante and Dulcinea (love interest to Don Quixote). It's hard to say whether that was a creative choice or simply a limitation of the actress. If it was a choice, it in some ways made Escalante the only true persona in the show - as she stayed the same character throughout. I've never seen this done with this character before, however, so I'm inclined to believe it was a limitation of vocal abilities on the part of the actress. She still did a fine job with the character, it was just not the type of performance I'm accostomed to seeing in this show.
Reprise! always puts on quality performances and this was no exception. It is certainly one to see if you can.
Man of La Mancha:
Mapping the Emotional Terrain of Translations - Directing Brian Friel's Translations for Coeurage Theatre at the Lost Studio, Ryan Wagner looked at original 19th-century maps in the New York library.