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Man of La Mancha Begins Previews

Man of La Mancha

Stratford Festival - Man of La Mancha Begins Previews

International director and dramaturge Robert McQueen makes his Stratford Festival debut at the helm of Man of La Mancha. A mixture of romance, humour and tragedy, framed within a rich musical score featuring the timeless anthem " The Impossible Dream," this epic musical begins previews on Thursday, May 8, at Stratford's Avon Theatre.

Beloved on Broadway to the tune of four revivals and five Tony awards, Man of La Mancha follows the saga of Miguel de Cervantes, playwright, poet and tax collector, who finds himself imprisoned and awaiting trial by the Inquisition. When his fellow prisoners try to confiscate his few possessions, including the uncompleted manuscript of his most famous work, the novel Don Quixote, Cervantes defends his masterpiece by presenting it as a play. Transforming himself into the title character, and recruiting his fiercely loyal manservant along with other inmates to take on various roles, he plays out his sweeping story of a deluded would-be-knight who becomes obsessed by his idealistic belief that the wrongs of the world can be corrected.

Among Mr. McQueen's many credits are productions with the Canadian Opera Company, Arizona Opera, Tokyo's Galaxy Theatre and the Cambodian Living Arts centre in Phnom Pehn. He also served as Associate Director for the Broadway and national touring productions of Mamma Mia! In staging Man of La Mancha, he asserts that the play is a dramatization of a few hours in the life of Cervantes, as opposed to simply a musical adaptation of Don Quixote, as it is often described.

"While much of Cervantes' military history is well documented - as a younger man he had been a soldier, injured during battle, captured and enslaved for five years - his full biography is largely a mystery," says Mr. McQueen. "It was Dale Wasserman's dream to delve into that mystery to create a play, an act of the imagination, which drew from Cervantes' theatrical and literary life."

"Cast from amongst the cut-throats in whose company he currently finds himself, the stories the poet performs are improvised versions of the Don Quixote adventures found within his book. Through the enactment of these adventures, both author and character plumb to the core of life's fundamental questions: Why am I here? What purpose does my life serve? How do I engage significantly in this relatively short time I am given?"

Inspired by this season's theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, Mr. McQueen explores what he sees as a central theme of the musical: the transforming power of the creative imagination.

"The madness of Cervantes is his imaginative drive," says Mr. McQueen. "He must save his manuscript at all costs. His entire life's opus is at stake, and the thought of its destruction is the thing that pushes his mind to the edge."

"Man of La Mancha is an extraordinary musical that, despite its darker elements, manages to be uplifting and inspiring, helping us to understand extreme behaviour as part of the human journey," says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. "I am thrilled to finally welcome Robert McQueen to Stratford and particularly thrilled to have him at the helm of this production. He has such a beautiful appreciation for the story. I think this will be something people will remember for years."

Cervantes is played by Tom Rooney, with Robin Hutton as the wench Aldonza - whom Quixote transforms in his mind into the idealized damsel Dulcinea - and Steve Ross as his loyal sidekick Sancho Panza.

Artistic credits include Choreographer Marc Kimelman, Musical Director Franklin Brasz, Set Designer Douglas Paraschuk, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle, Video and Projection Designer Sean Nieuwenhuis and Fight Director John Stead.

Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, the original production of Man of La Mancha was staged by Albert Marre and produced by Albert W. Selden and Hal James.

Stratford Festival
Stratford Festival
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