NORWAY – “Man of La Mancha” is probably the most ambitious theatrical production that Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association (OHMPAA) has ever attempted.

It has a large cast, and the small stage of the Norway Grange presents some challenges. Nevertheless, the powerful characters and inspiring music of this classic story of Don Quixote’s quest promises to bring this favorite to life in a very satisfying way.

“This is a pretty big step for us,” said Norm Hutchins, publicist for this OHMPAA production. “We have a lot of new faces with us for this show, and it’s great getting new people involved and helping us grow.”

Show director Sally Jones had to fill a cast that is mostly men. Because she has been involved in many theatrical productions for OHMPAA and elsewhere, she was able to “round up the troops” for this one, Hutchins said.

“Man of La Mancha” is the musical adaptation of Cervantes’ masterpiece, “Don Quixote.” It’s the show that introduced “The Impossible Dream” to the world and it won five Tony Awards in 1966. “Man of La Mancha” has become one of the most enduring works of musical theater.

It opens as Miguel de Cervantes is thrown into prison by the Spanish Inquisition, along with his servant Sancho Panza. When prisoners begin to steal his possessions, he defends himself by telling them the story of an old man who believed he could become the knight-errant Don Quixote.

Quixote sets out on a quest to fight for right and to find his lady. Instead, the “mad” knight fights windmills and finds Aldonza, who is definitely no lady. But against all odds, this noble knight dreams “the impossible dream” and through the power of his vision he gives hope to the prisoners and turns Aldonza into the Lady Dulcinea.

Steve Jones has the lead role of Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote/Alonso Quijana.

“He has a great voice, and there are so many great songs in this show,” Hutchins said.

In addition to “The Impossible Dream,” Jones performs the beautiful “Dulcinea” and the “Barber’s Song/Golden Helmet” number.

Jones performed a few years ago in OHMPAA’s production of “A Grand Night for Singing.”

Aldonza/Dulcinea is played by Carol Brown. It’s a role with powerful dramatic demands and her numbers include “What Do You Want of Me?” and “It’s All the Same.” She and Jones also sing “Aldonza.”

One of the delights of “Man of La Mancha is the comic role of Don Quixote’s servant, Sancho Panzo, who is played by OHMPAA veteran actor Elton Cole. His songs include “A Little Gossip,” “I, Don Quixote” with Jones, and “I Really Like Him” with Brown.

There are numerous entertaining ensemble numbers throughout “Man of La Mancha.” The muleteers jeer and menace Aldonza in “Little Bird, Little Bird,” and the so-called Knight of the Woeful Countenance is introduced in “The Dubbing” scene.

“Man of La Mancha” is performed on a single set that suggests a dungeon. Changes in location are created by alterations in the lighting, by the use of props supposedly lying around the floor of the dungeon, and by reliance on the audience’s imagination.

“Claire Sessions has done an amazing job on the set,” Hutchins said. The crew built several levels on the stage, and that allows the large cast freedom to move around.

Other members of the cast include George W. Wasserman as the governor and the innkeeper and Jeanie Stone as the innkeeper’s wife.

William Miller is captain of the inquisition and Dennis Twitchell plays the head muleteer. Tom Littlefied is the barber and Michael Davis is the padre.

Others in the cast are Dan Rennie, James Miller, Steve Sessions, Ian Griffith, Chris Alberi, Tommy McFarlane, Brandon Oliver Sukeforth. Joel Pulkkinen, Scott M. Waterman, Brandi Sawyer, Tracy Ludwig, Alison K. Whitney, Thomas L. Hoy, Ian Vail, Andy Fickett and Aaron Louque.

Producers are Claire Sessions, Susan Alberi and Jennifer St. Pierre.

Jeremy Hill is musical director. There is a six-piece orchestra for this production.

Performances at Norway Grange Hall, 15 Whitman St., are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 13-15 and 20-22, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 and 23.

Tickets are on sale now at Books N Things (739-6200) in Norway.

Go and do

What: “Man of LaMancha”

Who: Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 16 and 23

Where: Norway Grange Hall, Whitman Street, Norway

Tickets: Adults, $12; seniors, $10; available at Books N Things, by calling 739-6200 and at the door.


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