Her longtime dream has been to direct “Man of La Mancha” and Celeste Philippon is finding that such dreams are not always impossible.

Community Little Theatre of Lewiston-Auburn will open its 65th season Oct. 15 with this Tony Award-winning musical. This will be Philippon’s second directorial venture for CLT.

Based on the classic Spanish novel “Don Quixote,” by Miguel de Cervantes, the 1965 play by Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion is set in 16th century Spain during the Inquisition. It is filled with adventure, romance, tragedy and inspiration. The score is a musical delight and contains one of the most moving moments in musical theater when Don Quixote relates his personal credo in “The Impossible Dream.”

The story is framed around an incident said to have been taken from the life of the author. In the 16th century Cervantes, a poet, playwright and part-time actor, was arrested along with his manservant during the Spanish Inquisition. They were accused of presenting an entertainment offensive to the Inquisition and were cast into a huge dungeon.

The other prisoners gang up on Cervantes and his manservant and begin a mock trial, with the intention of stealing or burning his possessions. Cervantes desperately wishes to save a manuscript he carries with him and stages – with costumes, makeup and participation of other prisoners – an unusual defense, the story of Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Philippon said it seems that “Man of La Mancha” is either a familiar and much-loved show among some of her cast members or a totally new experience.

“Probably 80 percent of the cast are new to this show,” she said, adding that they are all learning a lot about the Inquisition.

She noted that CLT last produced the musical in 1982 and a St. Dominic’s High School production was staged in 1986.

On the other hand, she said, she and several production crew members have seen “Man of La Mancha” in seven or eight versions over the years.

The presentation she’s directing will be done on a racked stage sloping up to the rear, something new for CLT. Philippon said the stairway to the dungeon remains on stage throughout the far-ranging scenes as a reminder “with great impact” of the story’s basis.

There will be no intermission for this show which will be presented in its original format. It was decided to go with the uninterrupted two-hour-plus version because an intermission “really throws off the flow,” Philippon said.

“There are some exceptionally talented people in the cast. Mitch is really a natural for the lead,” the director said, referring to CLT veteran Mitchell Clyde Thomas in the role of Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote).

Michael Litchfield has the role of Sancho Panza, his manservant; and Melissa Stevens will play the fetching Aldonza (Dulcinea). Stevens is an accomplished actress and vocalist who is making her first appearance on CLT’s stage.

There is a “wonderful mix” of new faces and some CLT performers who return after long absences, Philippon said. David Ladderbush has not been in a CLT show for several years and Sue Healey is back after an 11-year hiatus, for example.

Glenn Atkins portrays both a prisoner and the Padre. Scott Powers also plays a prisoner as well as the Barber. Tiffany Boisvert portrays Antonia, fiancée to Dr. Sanson Carrasco, played by David Ladderbush, who also plays the role of the Duke and Knight of Mirrors.

Roger Philippon portrays the Governor and Innkeeper with Joline Caron playing his wife. Kaye Lawrence assumes the role of housekeeper. James Sargent is the Captain of the Inquisition. Danielle Sicotte portrays a Moorish Dancer with Glenn Dudley, a Moor. Sicotte also has the role of Fermina, the serving girl.

Wenches are played by Laurianne Anctil, Penny Appleby, Joline Caron, Tiffany Boisvert, Kaye Lawrence and Sue Healey. Bruce Gerry, Powers, Phil Vampatella, Marcel Dubois, Ladderbush and Harry Neidig play muleteers. Mike Arsenault and John Sawyer are cast as soldiers.

CLT will offer an informal meeting between performers and audience members following the Sunday, Oct. 24, show. This is a chance to learn what all of the nearly 50 people involved in the show do and what it takes to produce and present live theater, Philippon said. Young people will be encouraged to talk about the moral message of the play. Patrons who attend previous performances are welcome to attend.

“Man of La Mancha” has an adult theme, but uses no adult language.


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