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Man of La Mancha opens at Castleton

The parable of Don Quixote lived up to its name.Don Quixote is the Spanish legend of a dream chaser, a charlatan in the eyes of others. Kevin Ginter played Don Quixote, waving around obviously fake weapons. Though the props were supposed to look phony, they distracted from the musical rather than add to the character of Don Quixote.

The stars of the show, however, were not the cast. The horses, played by Heather Barnes and Heather Denardo, stole the limelight. Even when in the background, they were more eye-catching than the action taking place. Not only that, but their movement was so synchronized and playful that it was hard to watch Lauren Martin as Aldonza sing about her lifestyle.

That “Man of La Mancha” is a musical saved the show. The singing in Castleton’s production last weekend was top-notch, but the acting fell way below par. The spoken words seemed forced while the singing was full of heart.

“Man of La Mancha” details how Miguel de Cervantes wrote his novel “Don Quixote.” During the Spanish Inquisition, Cervantes was thrown into the dungeon while awaiting his appointment with the Inquisitioners. Cervantes tries to squirm out of judgement from his fellow prisoners by relating the story of Don Quixote in the search for the impossible dream.

It worked.

Through love songs devoted to a mythical Dulcinea, sweetheart, and various fights with the Muleteers, Don Quixote shows how high his head in the clouds. He pledges his love to the Dulcinea, stubbornly refusing to call her by her real name, Aldonza, and claims her as his lady although she is basically a prostitute.

Throughout the show, the Muleteers switched into different minor characters – the most surprising being Ken Holmes in his role as the gypsy king where his voice rose higher that Don Quixote’s head.

Since there were several scene changes between the prison and the play within the play, the actors were on stage moving around the props, fumbling very little. The scene transitions were mostly done smoothly and efficently.

Don Quixote’s partner in crime, Sancho Panza, played by Julian DeFelice, was a riot. He kept the entertainment rolling as he stuck by Don Quixote’s side through trying to lead Don Quixote from the traps he got himself snared in.

Don Quixote’s story is interrupted while the Inquisitioners come calling for a prisoner. Cervantes fears the possibility of his death only to be passed over for an hysterical prisoner played by Michelle Page. Through the rest of Don Quixote’s story, Cervantes comes to terms with his own impending death.

Though the story has a good moral, reaching for the impossible dream, it was outwardly stated.